Obamacare, WWII, and Why Effective Leaders Need Strong Subordinate Leaders

Over at Sister Toldjah, Phineas cites an email which notes:

Putting things in perspective: March 21st 2010 to October 1 2013 is 3 years, 6 months, 10 days.  December 7, 1941 to May 8, 1945 is 3 years, 5 months, 1 day.  What this means is that in the time we were attacked at Pearl Harbor to the day Germany surrendered is not enough time for this progressive federal government to build a working webpage.  Mobilization of millions, building tens of thousands of tanks,  planes, jeeps, subs, cruisers, destroyers, torpedoes, millions upon millions of guns, bombs, ammo, etc. Turning the tide in North Africa,  Invading Italy, D-Day,  Battle of the Bulge, Race to Berlin – all while we were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific!!  And in that amount of time – this administration can’t build a working webpage.

To be fair, the Obamacare support system is more than just a “webpage”…it also encompasses various back-end information-exchange systems. Still, it is a system that did not require the development of any truly new technologies or any conceptual breakthroughs in the use of existing technologies. Compared to any of a large number of WWII technology, manufacturing, and logistics efforts…proximity-fused ammunition, airborne radar, computer-based codebreaking, mass-production of airplanes and ships, the petroleum pipeline under the English Channel…the Obamacare support system is a very small thing indeed.

History and experience teach us that large, complex, time-critical programs only get done successfully when they are run by individuals who are tough-minded, possessed of practical wisdom, and willing to put their careers on the line to accomplish the goal…and when higher authority is willing to delegate sufficient scope and empowerment to such leaders. A couple of years ago, I wrote about one example of such a leader: General Bernard Schriever, who ran USAF ballistic missile programs.

In order to achieve his goal of delivering Atlas and other missile programs in the required time frames, General Schriever found it necessary to break a lot of china. For example, when Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott, ordered him to relocate certain missile facilities from the west cost to the midwest (supposedly based on industrial dispersion for survivability, but actually probably driven by political factors) Schreiver flatly refused, citing his “prior and overriding orders” to get the program done in the shortest feasible time. By then a general, Schriever stuck by his position on this even when Talbott threatened him that “Before this meeting is over, General, there’s going to be one more colonel in the Air Force!”

I don’t think people with strength of character like that of Bernard Schriever do very well in the Obama administration or that they remain with it for very long. A man who can say, as Obama did, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director” is a very small man. Small men tend to hire and retain only other small men and women.

And small men and women don’t run large and complex projects effectively.


19 thoughts on “Obamacare, WWII, and Why Effective Leaders Need Strong Subordinate Leaders”

  1. Maybe that explain all the flag officer reliefs the past several years, including Carter Ham.

    The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.

    General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.

    The story continues that now General Rodiguez would take General Ham’s place as the head of Africom.

  2. First rate leaders hire first rate subordinates and let them do their jobs. Second rate leaders hire third rate subordinates because they are afraid of being shown up. Everything goes pear shaped from there.

    Hussein isn’t a first rate leader, or a second rate leader, he is an empty suit. And we are well and truly boned.

  3. My model of a strong leader was Leslie Groves, of the Manhattan Project. He got that job after building the Pentagon in 14 months from turning first dirt to move-in.

    Today, it’s taken 13 years to build the processing plant to dispose of the Cold War nuclear waste – and it’s still not done.

  4. “I didn’t know that we ran oil pipeline under the English Channel.”

    My understanding was that it didn’t work very well. It was a good idea.

    One of the great problems in logistics after Normandy was JCH (Jesus Christ Himself) Lee . The Wiki article spends a lot of time on his policy of desegregation and almost nothing on his luxurious lifestyle in Paris and his poor operation.

  5. “…possessed of practical wisdom…”

    This is the point I have been trying to hammer home. As far as I can surmise, there are only two explanations for this whole giant debacle.

    1. It is intentional
    2. The unbelievable amount of hubris in the White House just thinks that “things get done” or “made” or whatever.

    To this end, it would behoove the denizens of the zero administration to come out of their cocoon just once in a while and try to understand how something is made, from conception, to design, to testing, to manufacturing and procurement, to field testing, etc. etc. Even something relatively simple like a central air conditioner takes years of testing and gear up before it can be mass produced.

    As of now, I would just call them “dumb” for thinking they could pull off this type of massive internet based project without first overhauling ALL of the government back end computers (hellooooo IRS) and making damned sure they could all “talk” to each other.

    This is an epic disaster, and a failure, and every Republican running in 2014 needs to hang this albatross on the Donks necks. But I am sure they aren’t this smart.

  6. The GOP will probably squander a once in a century opportunity out of laziness, stupidity snd a desire to not seem mean spirited.

  7. Adding more people to a project makes it take longer to compleat a task. As the size of government increases and as its scope increases, it will take longer and longer to accomplish less and less until it is ultimately ineffective at almost everything. Brooks and Peter both wrote about this, and Nicholas II and Louis XVI learned about it. up close and personal.

    “First class men hire first class men and second class men hire third class men.”

    I shudder to think of what fifth-rate men like lawyer-politicians hire.

  8. “I shudder to think of what fifth-rate men like lawyer-politicians hire.”

    First rare lawyers hire first rate lawyers and other personnel. I have seen it with my own eyes.

    Obama never worked for a top-ranked law firm. If he had, he would have had an idea of how to do big jobs and produce impeccable work product. Too bad he never actually practiced law. It would have had lessons he could have used as President.

  9. A huge part of the problem in this country is the attitude of arrogance too often inculcated as part of a university education–especially graduate education and especially education in “elite” universities. See Bookworm’s recent post on Harvard Law School graduates she has known. She refers to the school as “a factory for defective people who are given instant admission to America’s halls of power.”

  10. I am constantly reminded of the old maxim about “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations”. We are very close to the end of our squandering the accumulated wealth and power that was built by the last few generations, and will soon be back to the task of rebuilding what has been wasted and discarded.

    Our civilization has been taken over by those who have little or no practical world experience other than politics, and rarely any intellectual background other than a leftist university education and a law degree.

    The incompetence, and coincidental arrogance without justification, of this ruling elite has led our society into a cul-de-sac of grandiose failed schemes, and corrupt self-aggrandizement by people whose only accomplishment was fooling enough of their fellow citizens into electing them to some public office.

    I am describing a dangerous situation, not a lost cause, as some seem to have come to believe. Our own social history, and the events around the world in many former dictatorships, proves that authoritarian regimes can be dismantled and removed.

    The most difficult aspect of the many tasks we must undertake to reverse the current spiral into statist stagnation is to re-educate the general public about the dangers of an out of control collectivist government which has acquired the power to control every segment of our economic and social lives, and is rapidly moving toward control of our personal lives as well.

    The question is not “can we do this?”, but do we possess the needed determination and persistence to carry it through?

    Fortunately, as in the current medical insurance fiasco, collectivist policies are so grotesquely incompetent and counter-productive that a public made aware of the non-collectivist alternatives can then choose a different course.

    This will not be easy, of course, as no truly necessary task is ever easy and painless. But, on this commemorative day, it is hard to credit any faint-hearted complaints that it can’t be done.

    We have already done so much more, and paid such a fearful price, that giving up in the face of these current weasels would be an act of unforgivable cowardice, magnified by the courage of the men and women we remember today.

  11. May I ask why you bemoan incompetence amongst those who would conquer and plunder us further?

    This is designed to destroy private health insurance – the part of which that is currently exposed and not deferred – that is private insurance was destroyed in one month.

    That’s not incompetence.

    The website is either a brilliant diversion [that was the natural course of government functioning] or more likely dumb luck. They are lucky that people and the media are concerned with the web site. The loss of insurance for that portion of the market that was exposed is not the story. Or the main story.

    Obamacare was billed and designed to destroy private health care. It’s working fine. It’s destroyed what targets it was allowed to affect, and in due course the rest.

    As to the Republicans they will run on fixing it, and it’s likely ceterus paribus they will.

  12. VXXC…hopefully. people will grasp that being at the mercy of an enrollment website controlled by a monopolistic government controller of healthcare insurance is just a preview of what it would be like to be at the mercy of the website you need to access to actually get treatment, run by that same monopolistic provider…or to be at the mercy of monopolistic bureaucracy and its technological front end in any other aspect of life.

  13. I was “bemoaning” because I don’t believe in huge, inscrutable conspiracies by malevolent masterminds, but rather the ongoing depredations against our Republic by small people with an inflated sense of what they can do because their ideology says they should be able to.

    Of course the designers of this travesty don’t know or care what the negative consequences might be—they have good intentions and that’s all that really matters to them.

    In the mind of the true believer, any problems can always be fixed by expansion and increased funding, with a few new rules about this or that to correct the ways some people are avoiding the program.

    We are in the hands of the spiritual children of Mr Thompson, whose every decision and every motivation rests on what is needed to get through that day politically. The future is just a dim possibility out there somewhere, and if they are true to their ideology, everything will turn out just fine.

    I know there’s evil in the world, but these people aren’t some kind of devilish masterminds, they’re termites in a beautiful wooden mansion, gnawing on the support beams.

    Clean house and spray thoroughly for pests.

  14. Lexington Green Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 7:39 am

    The GOP will probably squander a once in a century opportunity out of laziness, stupidity snd a desire to not seem mean spirited.

    More and more I am coming to believe Angelo Codavilla, and that there is really just one “Governing Party”. The Democrats are the first string, the Republicans are the second string.

    David Foster Says:
    November 11th, 2013 at 10:16 am

    A huge part of the problem in this country is the attitude of arrogance too often inculcated as part of a university education–especially graduate education and especially education in “elite” universities. See Bookworm’s recent post on Harvard Law School graduates she has known. She refers to the school as “a factory for defective people who are given instant admission to America’s halls of power.”

    I personally believe that any company that hires a non-STEM graduate of any Ivy League school is engaged in the same kind of self-mutilation as a disturbed teenager with a razor blade. And I don’t really trust their STEM graduates, but at least they should have learned some of their profession to get a degree.

    An Ivy League diploma should be considered to be the equivalent of a Leper’s Bell anywhere more than 100 miles from the east and west coasts and/or south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

    Subotai Bahadur

  15. The Obamacare debacle is a perfect illustration in the bureaucratic civil service arena of an old saying regards military leadership:

    “An army of rabbits lead by a lion will beat an army of lions lead by a rabbit.”

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