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November 15, 2004

My Heart Goes to the Heartless

Liz recently invited me, graciously and thoughtfully as usual, to comment on questions regarding the seemingly irreconcilable differences between left and right in this post-election 12 step season. I demurred silently, as rudely usual. I think there's too little blur in top 20 lists, and I'm definitely in the blur zone when it comes to crisp definitions of my conservatism and conservatism in general.

However there are salient points that I think can be illustrative, but only when I think of them. To wit.

The phrase 'Character Counts' stands in contradistinction to the phrase 'Competence Counts'. If you ask me what separates liberals from conservatives that dichotomy splits the difference. Conservatives care mostly about performance and don't give a damn how you feel about it. Liberals want everyone to feel a sense of belonging no matter what kind of lamer they are.

Now there's a cat named Blackwill who is yet another leaving public service under a cloud of suspicion. It ails me to hear this kind of newsm he's the kind of guy who appeals to me. Why? Precisely because of this kind of testimony about him.

By the time I'd arrive in my office at 0730 (early, because I knew there'd be a lot of work waiting), I would find between 20 and 30 e-mails from Blackwill, time-stamped from 0330 onward, most dealing with materials he'd gleaned from the Internet. He was exceptionally demanding of his staff, to the point where they were breaking down with overload.

While Blackwill made my life difficult, he was always a decent human being. I think his major fault was that he simply lacked empathy toward other human beings, whether they were staff or foreign counterparts. It seemed, at times, that what he knew about managing personnel he'd read in a book. He could and would argue his side exceptionally well; he was not quick to realize that other sides might have some merit on occasion.

That being said, I'd go back to work with Blackwill in a flash..

I haven't been as international in my life as I might have expected given what I was up to three years ago. So I'm not quite as experienced as I should be to talk about human nature vis a vis the expression of power and wisdom. Yet I retain the distinct feeling that many, perhaps too many Americans, are spoiled in that they expect talented people to be heroic as well. The world isn't gentle, and people who deal with it needn't be. But for these false expectations we shun men like Blackwill. I call that hateration, but I could just unconsciously be regurgitating the moral of the story of 'The Incredibles'.

Posted by mbowen at November 15, 2004 10:29 AM

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