It was 6:30 pm on an ordinary weeknight and we were “dining” with a group of television political pundits, as they sputtered about President Biden’s attempts to pass his 3.9 trillion dollar spending plan.
They were musing on the Senators Manchin/ Sanders pow-wows. And on the time spent listening to personal and party-centric opinions. They wondered if there were too many cooks in the kitchen; too many fingers in the big pot.
Shortly after the commercial break, we heard from Gov. John Kasich of Ohio who is, apparently, a staunch believer in the “make your case and go to the mat for it” management style. Strong, powerful executives don’t waiver, he says. It’s a sign of weakness. Presidents have clout. They should use that power, that clout, to make themselves clear and leave it at that.
At that point, my own pundit (the one sitting across the table from me) recalled a paper he had written back in the late 70’s. He was asked, as he always was, to write a piece for the Chairman of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation to present to the board at its annual meetings.
In that paper of the late 70’s, he suggested that “clout” no longer referred to the ability to go it alone. Rather, he said that “clout is not the ability to go it alone, but rather to muster and support those who – working together – are able to get the job done.”
I liked his position back then. I like it even more now.
Graphic from the cover of a Charles F. Kettering Foundation annual report