The Biden White House is hemorrhaging people, so is the entire Administration. This is not entirely unforeseeable, but small leaks in a boat are different from mass gashes in the hull. An Administration that is disoriented on everything from energy policy to inflation, crime, border, Covid, Afghanistan, China – is now more than founding, it is sinking. Telling sign – Not taking care of their people.
Colin Powell was a master of the idea: You must take care of your people. The military from George Washington knows this principle. The point is not condescension or paternalism, but respect, empowerment, caring for people you lead. If you take care of them, they will of you and each other.
The idea is both simple and deep. If you want to be the best fighting force in the world, defend freedom, and model trust in those who wear the uniform, then do not undercut, underfund, or disrespect them. The same is true in any White House, having worked in both Reagan’s and GHB Bush’s.
Love your job, mission, requirements, and trust vested in you – but love your people just as much, for they are you and you are they. Their loyalty to mission, willingness to risk, think ahead, stay late, rise early, and anticipate – depend on you, what you believe, and what you will do to see it through.
Reagan and Bush 41 inspired that kind of loyalty. They were sharp, principled, mission-oriented, both men of character and cogency, inspiring in who they were, as well as where they led.
They also cared deeply about their people. Their history-shaping successes – both would admit – were not about them, so much as about those they led, who put in long hours, knowing they counted.
So, what is the contrast? The current moment. Failures are mounting up, and the Biden team is fracturing, fraying, just flying apart like a non-integrated, poorly maintained, rickety old piece of machinery. The process is solid, but the people are both failing and being failed by their leadership within.
You can say the problem is burn-out or fatigue, that times are hard, that being in the White House is challenging, and that people are free to leave. All true. All a deflection. What is missing is leadership, all-in, dynamic, caring and unfailing, and go-to-the-mat to help others, make it real.
What is happening, after just one year – less than a year – is that the Biden leadership team’s failure of commitment to you and me, to big principles, to real outcomes, to logic and tradition, what works and letting us all work, is also happening inside.
The internal state in this White House is demoralized, disunited, a fumbling team with a fumbling coach, AWOL assistant coach, lots of chefs running around spoiling the broth, and no caring about your people.
What that produces is an undeclared recognition that everyone is vulnerable to political sacrifice, no one is respected, the team is nothing more than an assembly of – possibly talented – people filling slots. The result is utter dysfunction, followed by disillusionment, disorientation, and a rush for exits. That is what is happening. See, e.g., Biden aides catch the holiday blues.
So, where is the good news? Well, let’s look for it here. If the word gets out that the ship is listing, maybe someone will emerge – even at a senior leadership level – who helps restore morale. Maybe recognition will come that a leftward shift, drift, or lurch is a bad thing – so stop it.
Or, more realistically, maybe the entire nation will wake up to what failed leadership looks like, will sit up, begin respecting the nation, our past, traditions, institutions, good leaders, and turn things around in 2022. We will wait to 2024 for good White House leadership, but even now – we can see the truth.
The signs are all there, and the truth is telling: The external failures of the Biden White House are both a result of and similar to their internal failures. People are leaving early because they are neither led nor cared about. This is a misguided, misfiring, muddle-minded administration.
Until leadership changes, reengaging with the American people reflects some caring about accountability, truth, and where leadership lies, nothing will change. As news accounts suggest, we should expect more ship jumping, internal dysfunction, and failure at the policy junction. The real good news is, people inside and out are beginning to realize – leadership matters, and starts with people.
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