Barack Obama understands something that his predecessor did not: that his job is to instill confidence whenever and wherever he can. The former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, once said instilling confidence is the most important thing he does. He described his job as one in which he makes things grow by walking around with a can of fertilizer in one hand and a watering can in the other. President Obama has taken a page from the Welch playbook.
While GM teeters on bankruptcy, Obama comes out and tells the country that it is safe to wade back into the waters of the Big 3 once again. He decreed that the US government will guarantee each and every car warranty for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Here is how he put it:
“If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you
will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like
always. Your warranty will be safe.
In fact, it will be safer than it’s ever been. Because
starting today, the United States government will stand behind
While many criticize the president for “socialist” ways, I believe he continues to steer the ship just right. He decided not to allow the US car industry to disappear, ensuring its long term prospects. However, he did fire GM CEO Rick Waggoner, after reviewing what he felt was an inadequte restructuring plan.
What are we to make of all this? What kind of leader will Obama be? I believe that he will first and foremost be a prgamatist in the era in which accountability and pragmatism have never been at a greater premium. His strength as a leader is that he understands that while Rome burns, it is his responsibility to put out the fires and search for the pyromaniacs later. That explains his multi-trilli0n-dollar budget, his continued use of the TARP budget, his vow of a trillion dollars to the IMF, etc. Former President Bush may have been our first MBA president, but Obama is our first genuine CEO-in-Chief.