Reflecting on this past week, watching President Obama on the road in Cali and his weekly video address yesterday, I continue to feel that "this guy's got game". He is operating with great poise, a high-level of mental speed and agility, and an intense focus on big issues; that was glaringly absent during the last eight aggravating years of Bush II. Which brings me to some observations about Sen. Jim Webb, The US Marine Corps, and President Barack Obama.
Admittedly, I am an unabashed, Scots Irish , "Born Fighting", Jim Webb Democrat. So it is natural for me to posit that Jim Webb's personality and approach to political leadership, was strongly influenced by his experiences as a US Marine officer. I have seen first-hand, the intellectual agility, intensity of focus on objectives, and mental toughness displayed by Sen. Webb, when he is engaged in discussions on a major policy issue in a public forum. It is clear that his friends and foes had better be prepared to operate with a high mental clock speed, and intensity of purpose. He doesn't suffer fools (mostly Republicans) gladly. Some of this "fighting style" is inherent in his basic personality, but I argue that much of his political strategies and tactics, come from his USMC training and combat experiences in Vietnam.
To many, the United States Marine Corps, would seem to be the antithesis of progressive thinking. Historical and fictional accounts of the exploits of the US Marines, certainly foster the popular impression of Jarheads and Leathernecks, as long on combat toughness and intensity, short on smarts. My own research, and personal experiences with many friends and acquaintance who are Marines, belies that stereotype. While an 18 year old newbie Marine rifleman can be a bit rough and ready. Not so , the professionals, Marine NCO's and Officers. These leaders are a special breed of modern philosopher-warrior. Some of the best break-through thinking during the Iraq War came from Marine Officers. They are now going through a difficult transition in ramping up operations in Afghanistan.
Nothing new for the USMC, a core mantra for a Marine is to: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome
While President Obama may not have had any military training or service, he seems to be building and operating a strong team of political warriors, including new NSC head James Jones USMC Ret. and it seems to me that his political combat methodoloy is patterned after some of the USMC seven guiding principles of maneuver warfare:
- Targeting critical vulnerabilities (going after the critical tipping points - Financial Recovery, Health Care, Alternative Energy, 21st Century Workforce Education)
- Boldness ("Do, or do not. There is no try." - Yoda)
- Surprise (move with high velocity and force, while your opponent is confused)
- Focus (know your BIG objectives (see 3/21 video) adjust milestones along the way)
- Decentralized decision-making (empowering more folks to collaborate in the process - Dem-powered Congress, DNC grassroots outreach/Mitch Stewart, energized State Dems, public policy NGO's)
- Tempo (operating with a higher mental & physical clock speed, than your adversaries)
- Combined arms (project teaming across functional silos, evidence/science/results based policies and programs, using Web 2.0 technology to your advantage)
Republicans are failing to keep up with the battle tempo. The force/team/organizations with the fastest OODA loop will prevail in a conflict. Those entities that fail to adapt, will not survive. Sort of a Darwinian thing.
The Trad-Media is operating way behind the curve: Presidential honeymoons; rightwingnut uprisings; outrage at Wall St (surprise!) bad behavior, focusing only on where we have been, versus where we are already going. The "N-Cubes" -- Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, don't get the job done. The Red Team needs to suck it up, decide who they really are, and get their head in the game. We need them to join us in a healthy debate and struggle, to shape our shared economic future and to improve federal government systems and processes. 19th and 20th century thinking will not do in the 21st century. Republicans... This fight is for our future ...it's not about you!
Reminder to all - bring DATA. Evidence-based government ahead. The change (to fact-based thinking) will do us good.
OODA = Observe, Orient, Decide, Act