PENNSYLVANIA NATIVE LEE
IACOCCA FINDS THE PRIME QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP LACKING IN TODAY'S WHITE
HOUSE, AND IT IS REFLECTED IN THE ADMINISTRATION'S IRAQ POLICY.
Speech Submitted for the record, May 22,
latest book, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” Lee Iacocca, the former
chairman of Chrysler, says he is fed up with what is happening in this
country. He points out that while he has never been a Commander in
Chief, he has been a CEO, and he knows a few things about leadership.
identifies what he calls the Nine Cs of leadership. A leader must be
Curious and Creative. He must be able to Communicate. He must have
Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competence, and Common Sense.
believes those qualities are lacking in Washington today. While he makes
it clear that he does not exclusively blame liberals or conservatives,
Republicans or Democrats for our national failings, he finds the
leadership void to be most severe in the Oval Office.
will not read the entire section of his book on this topic, I am going
to state for the record some of the things Iacocca says about some of
his nine points, and how they relate to our current debacle in Iraq,
because I believe he provides a perspective that Americans ought to stop
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
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 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. 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.
"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
"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. 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 tumbling down. On September 11, 2001, we needed a
strong leader more than any other time in our history. … And what did
George Bush 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.
"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
"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. Weather 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.”
the words of Lee Iacocca, a native Pennsylvanian, born in Allentown to
Italian immigrant parents, educated here in Pennsylvania in our public
schools, and at Lehigh University.
And now, Madam President, I would ask the Senate to
remember two other sons of Pennsylvania, who unfortunately sacrificed
their lives in the war in Iraq.
Sergeant Edward W. Shaffer, 23, of Mont Alto, Pa., died
Dec. 27 in Texas, of injuries sustained on Nov. 13 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq,
when an IED detonated near his position. Sergeant Shaffer was assigned
to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team,
1st Armored Division.
Private David E. Dietrich, 21, of Marysville, Pa., died
Dec. 29 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, of wounds suffered while on combat patrol,
when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms
fire. Private Dietrich was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st
Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
They are among the 3,422 American soldiers killed so far
in Iraq. Another 25,378 have been wounded.
Thank You, Madam President.