His Strength is His Weakness

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has a great piece by Robert Greene, author of 33 Strategies of War. I will now shamelessly repost it here:

One of the greatest problems facing any politician is the perception of weakness. It is what doomed presidential candidate John Kerry. Demonstrating strength and resolution is the cornerstone of George W. Bush’s presidency. His every action is calibrated to distinguish himself from the perceived weaknesses of his father, and of his predecessor, President Clinton. But as the great Chinese strategist Sun-tzu demonstrated, what someone believes is their strength is in fact their point of greatest vulnerability.

The current crisis facing President Bush is an apt demonstration of this. As he and his strategists wrack their brains to find a way to turn around his plummeting poll numbers, they inevitably play to what they know best -- staying the course, acting with even more vigor and conviction. To fire Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will show weakness; to make wholesale changes in staff, or to replace Chief of Staff Andrew Card with someone much different, will show panic, hence the choice of Bolten. But this is the kind of strategic response that will spell suicide.

When President Ronald Reagan faced his greatest crisis after the Iran-Contra scandal, he brought in Howard Baker to replace Donald Regan as chief of staff, a conventional admission of failure that showed unconventional strength—the capacity to change, to adapt to circumstance. As Reagan understood, it is how the leader frames his actions that matters. And strength is often best demonstrated by doing something different and counterintuitive. That is what separates the great strategists -- Napoleon, FDR, Reagan -- from the vast legions of the mediocre.
This desire to show 'strength' is even more evident in the 35% of Americans that refuse to see the facts and continue to support President Bush. They're caught up in the idea that if they change they're mind, they're weak. I'm not even going to think about how a President with an obsessive need for macho posing could screw up a nuclear confrontation with Iran.

1 comment:

Postman said...

Try to make sense of Iran / nukes etc.,