By Lee Iacocca
Copyright C 2007 Lee Iacocca
All right reserved.
> Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening?
> Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder.
> We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right
over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we
> can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car.
But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads
> when the politicians say, "Stay the course."
> Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the
damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!
You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and
maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this
> country anymore. The President of the United States is given a
freepass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on
> a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge
tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous
> business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs.
While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody
> seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of
asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents
> and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?
> I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're
not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.
> My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two
years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to -- as soon
> as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them
to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic
> duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation
as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not
> pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those
young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust
> politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These
guys work for us.
> WHO ARE THESE GUYS, ANYWAY?
> Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in
Washington? Well, we voted for them -- or at least some of us did.
> But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the
Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding
> answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech
treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.
> And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or
liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's
> part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of
factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And
> we rise and fall together.
> Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make
us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of
> Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and
Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great
> leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the
> THE TEST OF A LEADER
> I've never been Commander in Chief, but I've been a CEO. I understand
a few things about leadership at the top. I've figured out nine points
> -- not ten (I don't want people accusing me of thinking I'm Moses). I
call them the "Nine Cs of Leadership." They're not fancy or
> complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader
should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks
> up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January
2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008.
> Then let's be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates
who say they want to run the country. It's up to us to choose wisely.
> So, here's my C list:
> A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of
the "Yes, sir" crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously,
> because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags
about never reading a newspaper. "I just scan the headlines," he says.
> Am I hearing this right? He's the President of the United States and
he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, "Were it left
> to me to decide whether we should have a government without
newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate
> for a moment to prefer the latter." Bush disagrees. As long as he gets
his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound
> system, he's ready to go.
> If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different
ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn't put his beliefs to the test, how
> does he know he's right? The inability to listen is a form of
arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you
> just don't care. Before the 2006 election, George Bush made a big
point of saying he didn't listen to the polls. Yeah, that's what they
> all say when the polls stink. But maybe he should have listened,
because 70 percent of the people were saying he was on the wrong
> track. It took a "thumping" on election day to wake him up, but even
then you got the feeling he wasn't listening so much as he was
calculating how to do a better job of convincing everyone he was right.
> A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try
something different. You know, think outside the box. George Bush
> prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is
spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-
> flopping. There's a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty.
Senator Joe Biden recalled a conversation he had with Bush a few
> months after our troops marched into Baghdad. Joe was in the Oval
Office outlining his concerns to the President -- the explosive mix of
> Shiite and Sunni, the disbanded Iraqi army, the problems securing the
oil fields. "The President was serene," Joe recalled. "He told me he
> was sure that we were on the right course and that all would be well.
'Mr. President,' I finally said, 'how can you be so sure when you
> don't yet know all the facts?'" Bush then reached over and put a
steadying hand on Joe's shoulder. "My instincts," he said. "My
> instincts." Joe was flabbergasted. He told Bush, "Mr. President, your
instincts aren't good enough." Joe Biden sure didn't think the matter
> was settled. And, as we all know now, it wasn't.>
> Leadership is all about managing change -- whether you're leading a
company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative.
> You adapt. Maybe Bush was absent the day they covered that at Harvard
> A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I'm not talking about running off at the
mouth or spouting sound bites. I'm talking about facing reality and
> telling the truth. Nobody in the current administration seems to know
how to talk straight anymore. Instead, they spend most of their time
> trying to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem.
I don't know if it's denial or dishonesty, but it can start to drive
> you crazy after a while. Communication has to start with telling the
truth, even when it's painful. The war in Iraq has been, among other
> things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who
didn't cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being
> told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we've
stopped listening to him.
> A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the
difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right
> thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you want to test a man's
character, give him power." George Bush has a lot of power. What does
> it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold
action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows
> little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops
(not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to
> their deaths -- for what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his
daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show
> his daddy he's tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are
questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man
> of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.
> A leader must have COURAGE. I'm talking about balls. (That even goes
for female leaders.) Swagger isn't courage. Tough talk isn't courage.
> George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes
to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun.
> Courage in the twenty-first century doesn't mean posturing and
bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table
> and talk.
> If you're a politician, courage means taking a position even when you
know it will cost you votes. Bush can't even make a public appearance
> unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He did a series
of so-called town hall meetings last year, in auditoriums packed with
> his most devoted fans. The questions were all softballs.
> To be a leader you've got to have CONVICTION -- a fire in your belly.
You've got to have passion. You've got to really want to get something
> done. How do you measure fire in the belly? Bush has set the all-time
record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. President -- four
hundred and counting. He'd rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse
himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that
the high point of his presidency so far was catching a
seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.
> It's no better on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session only ninety-
seven days in 2006. That's eleven days less than the record set in
1948, when President Harry Truman coined the term do-nothing Congress.
Most people would expect to be fired if they worked so little and had
nothing to show for it. But Congress managed to find the time to vote
itself a raise. Now, that's not leadership.
> A leader should have CHARISMA. I'm not talking about being flashy.
Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It's the
> ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him.
That's my definition of charisma. Maybe George Bush is a great guy to
> hang out with at a barbecue or a ball game. But put him at a global
summit where the future of our planet is at stake, and he doesn't look
> very presidential. Those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he
enjoys so much don't go over that well with world leaders. Just ask
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who received an unwelcome shoulder
massage from our President at a G-8 Summit. When he came up
> behind her and started squeezing, I thought she was going to go right
through the roof.
> A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn't it? You've
got to know what you're doing. More important than that, you've got to
> surround yourself with people who know what they're doing. Bush brags
about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent?
> Well, let's see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we've got the
largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and
we've run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And
that's just for starters. A leader has to be a problem solver, and the
biggest problems we face as a nation seem to be on the back burner.
> You can't be a leader if you don't have COMMON SENSE. I call this
Charlie Beacham's rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in
> the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford's zone manager in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham,
> who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner,
with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to
tell me, "Remember, Lee, the only thing you've got going for you as a
human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you
don't know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you'll
never make it." George Bush doesn't have common sense. He just has a
lot of sound bites. You know --
> Former President Bill Clinton once said, "I grew up in an alcoholic
home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality-based
> world -- and I like it here." I think our current President should
visit the real world once in a while.
> THE BIGGEST C IS CRISIS
> Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis.
It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or
send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a >
battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes
> On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other
time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the
> ashes. Where was George Bush? He was reading a story about a pet goat
to kids in Florida when he heard about the attacks. He kept sitting
> there for twenty minutes with a baffled look on his face. It's all on
tape. You can see it for yourself. Then, instead of taking the
quickest route back to Washington and immediately going on the air to
reassure the panicked people of this country, he decided it wasn't
safe to return to the White House. He basically went into hiding for
the day -- and he told Vice President Dick Cheney to stay put in his
bunker. We were all frozen in front of our TVs, scared out of our
wits, waiting for our leaders to tell us that we were going to be
okay, and there was nobody home. It took Bush a couple of days to get
his bearings and devise the right photo op at Ground Zero.
> That was George Bush's moment of truth, and he was paralyzed. And what
did he do when he'd regained his composure? He led us down the road to
Iraq -- a road his own father had considered disastrous when he was
President. But Bush didn't listen to Daddy. He listened to a higher
> father. He prides himself on being faith based, not reality based. If
that doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what will.
> A HELL OF A MESS
> So here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan
for winning and no plan for leaving. We're running the biggest deficit
> in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to
Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health
> care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a
coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are
> like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These
are times that cry out for leadership.
> But when you look around, you've got to ask: "Where have all the
leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where
are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and
common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get
> Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than
making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?
> We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and
all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
> Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina.
Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the
> hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were
made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down,
fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just
crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what
you're going to do the next time.
> Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can
restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed
> that there could ever be a time when "the Big Three" referred to
Japanese car companies? How did this happen -- and more important, what
are we going to do about it?
> Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down
the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care
> problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are
eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
> I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on
your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is
being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity.
What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will
> call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine
for a change?
> HAD ENOUGH?
> Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying
to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in
America. In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some
of America's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst
crises -- the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the
Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the 1970s oil crisis, and the
struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one
thing, it's this: You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines
waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a
better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a
role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a
call to action for people who, like me, believe in America. It's not
too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the
horseshit and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had enough.
> Copyright C 2007 by Lee Iacocca & Associates, Inc., a California
> THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS THE TRUTH, NO MATTER WHAT LANGUAGE IT'S IN.
> Marty Warner