Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Inappropriate Metaphor

In recent days, the most ill-used metaphor has been “hit the ground running.” It is largely applied to the efforts of the president-elect to be up to speed when he takes office next week. I do applaud his efforts in attempting to get a head start on manning the helm of the ship of state. I guess it’s the news media and talking heads that are the object of my criticism.

One of my favorites on television is a program on the Discovery Channel called “Myth Busters.” In a recent episode (Nov. 12, 08), they tackled this old shibboleth—“hit the ground running..” They tested it against practical reality. They attempted to lower members of their staff on a closed course by harnesses with releases to actually be running in the air as they were lowered to the starting line. Their speed was then compared to that of starting in a normal manner. None gained any advantage by being in motion at the start. They were almost universally impeded by stumbling at the change point.

Every device they used to gain an advantage at the start met with similar results. Although in some cases hilarious, the results were conclusive; no advantage is achieved in this very physical attempt.

As I watch “the one” and his efforts to obtain an advantage by preparation in advance of the actual inauguration and assumption of the mantle of leadership seems headed for a similar result. The greatest lesson which he has yet to learn is the difference between leadership and direction. It boils down to push vs. pull. Most folks are agreeable if they feel those in charge are pulling them to success in their efforts. Being pushed is rarely any fun for anyone and often meets with serious resistance.

The net result of his announced cabinet choices have resulted in serious resistance from various legislators who either felt “out of the loop” or else being pushed into decisions not of there own making. They do have to be the engine of approval for these people after all. Some more experienced ones recognize their own failings (see Bill Richardson) and have withdrawn. I predicted in a prior posting that he would be the all time champ of failed appointments and he has now already taken over first place among would be presidents. He may even lose one more possible appointment.

While every president-elect hopes for a smooth transition, few achieve that vaunted goal. When one runs on a total change in the philosophy of a government, one should anticipate more than a few rough spots.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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