Saturday, February 26, 2011
Barack Obama 2012 : White House Management. 1. Mikhail Kryzhanovsky
Time is your #1 value — learn how to run it properly through your White House staff. Divide your life in the White House into two 4-year-long terms and then divide your term into cycles. All you have to do during your first term is to take care of the second one — that’s your agenda. The second term’s agenda is to set your place in the world’s history.
First year. You have enough public support to start big initiatives.
Presidents have a “honeymoon,” some period after the inauguration, up to 3 months, when the opposition party refrains from attacks and Congress is inclined to support you too. This is a nice time for unrealistic public expectations, so set a national agenda right away and declare strong initiative on tax and budget issues.
Attention: once the first 100 days are gone (productive opening period), the media hounds will start baying. Once 180 days are past — Congress starts biting! President Kennedy said once: “I made two mistakes during my first year. One was Cuba. The other one was letting it be known that I read as much as I do.”
Second year. Develop your initiatives. It’s a time when inevitable public disappointment comes after high expectations. Your proposals inevitably antagonize certain interest groups and your popularity declines, because some groups develop into consistent winners and others — into consistent losers. You have to help your party with mid-term elections when the entire House and one-third of the Senate is up for re-election — it’s the best indicator of the nation’s approval or disapproval of your presidency. (But if you are not popular at the time, don’t show up in public often and don’t “help” certain candidates. George W. Bush ignored this rule and Republicans lost the House of Representatives in 2006). If you fail to do what you plan in the first two years, better get it done fast!
Third year. Go, go public preparing your re-election. Presidents often lose voters during this period.
Fourth year. All-politics year. Try to achieve some important international agreement (a treaty) for the historic record. Win re-election.
Divide each year into 2 cycles:
1st cycle — late autumn and early winter prepare State of the Union Address to Congress, new legislation and budget recommendations.
2nd cycle — in late winter and spring promote these proposals and prepare for annual “Big Eight” summit.
Divide your week into days.
Monday and Tuesday — decide plans and priorities for the week (with senior White House staff, Secretaries and Congress leaders). Limit those who can see you every morning to the top three — Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser and your scheduler.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday — guide execution and make decisions. Don’t forget about your weekly radio address.
Divide your day into hours and minutes.
General rule is 30% of your weekly hours go to senior White House staff, 10% — to Cabinet, 5% — to Congress members, 5% — to foreign leaders.
No matter what, even if it’s a war time, sleep one hour during the day to give your brain a break, and finish your day at 6 P.M. After 6 P.M. do not read any documents, do not take any phone calls, do not talk to anybody but family members and close friends. Most presidents are manipulated by their aides, overwork themselves and fail to reach the age to which they were expected to live at the time of their election.
And — eat whatever you want, but you must know that the more calories you have to digest, the slower you think.
Have a strategy for the last day of your presidency — maybe you’d like to pardon some convicted criminals, either to soften your image, make some more useful friends - or to make life more difficult for your rivals.
1. You are a national image (a national ideal based on pseudo-facts). You are supposed to be a symbol of national unity, national continuity and the symbol of federal government. You have to be a religious person and affirm religious values and set a moral example.
Leadership is the first quality Americans look for in you - they want a President who is steadfast in his convictions. You are done with elections, but you are not done with your image.
2. The power to control the federal budget is your top prerogative.
3. Whom are you going to be? Make a choice:
- utopist (ideas manipulator)
- manager (Government and Congress manipulator)
- challenger (reformer)
4. Any problem turns into a political one if it threatens your power.
5. Use your legal right to press the nation and illegal ones to press the world to eliminate problems.
4. Once you’re in politics, you are a hostage of your status and you must sacrifice privacy in return for power.
6. Never play alone - you are power as part of a group.
7. All your decisions are risk taking ones (any decision brings a problem). You may ask advice before you make a decision, but don’t listen to anybody afterwards. You are not paid for the quantity of your work but for leadership and ultimate decision making. (If your adviser approaches you with a fresh idea, ask him why isn’t everyone else using it).
8. Correct political mistakes before they became political scandals, but avoid any rush - think three times and check ten times before you sign anything (emergency is a loss of control).
9. No easy matter will come to you as President - if they are easy they should be settled at lower levels. Don’t trust those who work too much and who push you too often (people who try to influence you go to your advisers, because they know you listen to the people close to you).
10. Never blame previous Presidents for the problems they left for you - that’s a sign of weakness.
11. Get rid of a White House tradition to deal with problems only if they “knock at the door.”
Your priorities are:
1. Economic policy: government taxing and spending, regulation and promotion of business, monetary supply, agriculture support.
2. Social policy: income security, housing, health care, education
3. Civil rights and liberties policy: discrimination prevention; voting rights and basic liberties
4. Natural resources & environmental policy: clear air and water, wildlife protection, national parks, public lands, water resources
5. Foreign & national security: new weapons systems, troop levels, military alliances, intelligence activities, foreign aid, foreign trade, treaties, relations with foreign governments, immigration