John Cullen

Obama’s a Good CEO

The professional pundits have been so wrong about the presidential primary that my predictions about the election are just as wise as theirs. According to all the smart folks on CNN, Fox and MSNBC a year ago, Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani were steamrollers who would mow down all comers.

Well, we know how that turned out.

For what it’s worth, I think Barack Obama will be elected our next president. Certainly his policies will have something to do with it: opposition to the Iraq war and the rotten state of the economy. But a bigger factor, I think, is his organizational skill. He is, after all, a community organizer by profession. He knows how to build grassroots action from his days working in neighborhoods in south Chicago. He proved this by his stunning win in the Democratic nomination process, building a grassroots network across the nation that upset the Clintons, the standard-bearers of the Democratic machine.

While Hillary Clinton built her campaign around a few big states, figuring she’d be the nominee by Feb. 5, Obama’s team was working a 50-state program, snatching small states that Clinton and the other candidates overlooked, and narrowing the gap in the big states.

Of course, winning Iowa’s caucuses was integral to Obama’s success. He was supposed to finish no better than third here, behind John Edwards and Clinton. Again, his management style and organizational skills led him to victory.

That Obama managed his campaign so well speaks to his qualifications as a leader and competent chief executive. While he was scooping up delegates and building a humongous war chest, the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee, were in disarray and broke. Clinton’s campaign built up a deficit of more than $20 million — some vendors in Iowa are still unpaid — and she had to loan her campaign more than $11 million of her family’s fortune.

McCain was also having tremendous management problems. Like Clinton, he had to fire several top staffers after miserable showings in the early states. He also ran up a big deficit and, like Clinton, had to borrow millions of dollars to keep his campaign going.

One of McCain’s campaign themes is cutting wasteful spending and managing the federal budget better than the Democrats. His results so far say otherwise. If he can’t manage his own campaign and keep it solvent, how can he manage the economy of the United States?

Meanwhile, the liberal Democrat, Barack Obama, has run a campaign that has been well-managed and financially secure.

Whom would you rather have as the chief executive of the United States?

John Cullen is publisher of The Progressive Populist. Email:

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2008

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