When you elect a national leader — do you want a Mind Manager or a Paper Pusher?


In a recent debate, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton disagreed over the role of the President of the United States.

Barack said he would not be obsessed with reading and signing every single piece of paper that crossed his desk because, he argued, his job was to see the big picture, inspire people, and lead the way.  He has others who can read all the paper and process it and push it out the door.

Hillary then attacked Obama for being “lazy” and too “hands off” and, if she were our president, she promised to read every single piece of paper that flew across her desk because, she argued, the job of the President of the United States is to “know everything that is going on everywhere” and, as a final retort, she said, “We’ve seen what eight years of a ‘hands-off presidency’ gets us.”

My question to you today is this:  Do you agree more with Barack or Hillary?

Do our national leaders owe their energy to visioning the future; or must they concentrate their energy on processing our path to the horizon

Please argue one side or the other — don’t take the middling path and say — “we need a little bit of both.”

11 Comments

  1. Well, if I were the president I will not waste my energy to go through “every single piece of paper etc.” because I guess I will have paid employees to provide me the gist of it so I can spend more quality time solving it.
    Bottom line: I support Obama!

  2. Hi Katha! I certainly agree. I don’t think we need a policy wonk for president. You can always find someone to push paper for you, but a president should have a prescient vision for the future of not just the USA, but the world. That takes a lot of time and thought energy to create.

  3. Definitely, definitely, definitely – mind manager. If you read every single paper that comes on your desk as president you will never ever get a thing done.

  4. It’s interesting, Gordon, how quickly she jumped on the “I’ll read everything!” response after hearing Obama wouldn’t be bothered by pushing paper as president. It was as if her vision of a president is one of being involved in every little niche of every tiny thing. I admire that want, but as president, it is unrealistic because you have the philosophy of a country to run and that is more than a numbers and punctuation game.
    I wish he’d pushed her back a bit for being unrealistic because the way the emotion of the answer played out was that he was the second coming of Bush II, and she was the smart girl who’d solve everything on the first day.

  5. You’re right about that, Donna! It was such a dumb answer, but she got away with it and scored points, too! Nobody seemed to take note of it.
    It happened a few debates ago and it has stuck with me ever since — and as I watch them campaign, you can see that style in effect.
    One is totally hands-on in a control-freakish way while the other always seems to be thinking of something grander, elsewhere. The trick we need to turn is to get the big visionary in there instead of the ordinary, “me, Me, ME!” over-achieving, self-serving, archetype we are so often stuck with in the end.

  6. David–
    Not everyone gets the “visionary.” But that’s exactly what we need right now, not these little band-aid fixes. And certainly not a micromanager.
    Seeing every piece of paper would not necessarily make you a hands-on president.
    I think it would make you less hands on.
    But not everyone would get that. They would just think Hillary will be more hands on, which would be perceived as a good thing to a good many people.
    Dumb answer. But she knows exactly what she’s doing.

  7. That’s it, Donna! Few get the “visionary” thing and so they vote for the “hard worker, regular person” over the inconvenient intellectual. If we had smarter people in the nation, we’d have smarter presidents because the “masses” would be better minded and realize we must have our presidents ahead of us and not with us or behind us.

  8. David!
    does this put the difference between these two candidates in perspective or what!?
    to “know everything that is going on everywhere” is not something you can do by simply reading every piece of paper that comes your way. What Hillary seems to forgetting is that the bureaucracy will want to house-train her from the first day. And if it is paper she wants she’ll be sure to get tons of it! And most of it will only serve to cloud her understanding of issues.
    I’m with Obama on this! And I completely agree with your last comment!

  9. That’s a great insight, Dananjay! You’re right that she’s going to drown in her own want to know everything that can never be known. I like Obama’s coolness and thought process. Will that pay in North Carolina and Indiana today? We’ll see…

  10. UPDATE:
    Hillary is now claiming Obama was 25 points ahead in North Carolina and she has caught up to him. He never had a 25 point lead there!