The First Rule of Leadership & Storyline Convergence

“The first rule of leadership: everything is your fault” – Hopper (voice of Kevin Spacey), A Bug’s Life

Over the past few days we’ve hit on a couple of themes. First, politicians have an inability to accept blame for anything (see Not My Fault Culture). Then, yesterday, we noted again that progressive politicians really struggle in the face of overwhelming adversity. They have set government (and themselves by extension) as the source of solutions for all of society’s problems. Then, when a problem arises that is to big, or too acute to be resolved quickly, they get hammered by an angry public that wants solutions now.

In a nice convergence of storylines, mayor Bloomberg is now hitting out at the poor response by emergency workers and snow cleaning crews after the winter storm. (One of a number of articles can be found here.) I guess when you have nowhere else to turn, this is what it comes to.

“I, the mayor, cannot be faulted for anything. But, the public is angry. While I have done an excellent job of preparing the city for such a tragedy, it’s those darn workers who failed to meet the level of excellence that I have instilled.” – OK, that’s not a real quote, I’m embellishing just a bit.

Now, if Bloomberg is using this as a mechanism to turn public anger toward public unions that are destroying states and municipalities across the country, then I actually applaud him. These unions need to be taken out of commission, preferably through decertification. I seriously doubt that would happen in New York, so Bloomberg may need some leverage at the table – disasters can help to that end.

Somehow though, I doubt that Bloomberg has gone this far in his negotiation timeline. I think, more probably, that he was taking some heat and wanted to deflect the blame. So, throw some public employees under the bus.

Back in July of 2004, the US aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy traveled through the crowded waters of the Persian Gulf. That night, the boat collided with a small local vessel (called a dhow). The gulf is absolutely littered with thousands of these things. It’s amazing collisions don’t happen more often.

Nonetheless, the ship’s commanding officer was relieved of duty. There was somehow a breakdown of communication. Did the radar crew room spot but not report the vessel? Did spotters fail to see it? It’s not clear that anybody knows for sure. Either way, all of those things are the responsibility of the CO. He has the authority to make whatever changes he needs in order to keep the boat safe; to enact training and staffing changes to keep the boat safe; dispatch any number of military assets to keep the boat safe. He has the authority – therefore he bore the responsibility.

Bloomberg’s situation is far more grievous. There has been a breakdown of government services. Where could blame possibly lie other than the top? Perhaps Bloomberg knows this and is trying to signal that his hands were tied and somebody else is responsible. Or, perhaps he is just unable to accept criticism without deflecting blame. Narcissism is a favorite amongst modern progressive politicians.

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