Michael Moore rips Bush yet another one.
August 12, 2004 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Michael Moore rips Bush yet another one. While making Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore interviewed Porter Goss, President Bush's as-yet-to-be-approved nominee for head of the CIA. In the interview, Porter Goss said he wasn't qualified to even be in the CIA anymore, much less run it.

"It is true I was a case officer, clandestine services officer, and yes, I do understand the core mission of the business. But I couldn't get a job with the CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. You know my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably, and I certainly don't have the technical skills, as my children remind me every day. "Daddy, Daddy, you gotta get better on your computer." And so the things you need to have, I don't have."

The video is available here. (Quicktime.)
posted by insomnia_lj (73 comments total)
 
Via the New York Times:

A dozen Senate Democrats suggested Wednesday that they would not oppose President Bush's nomination of Representative Porter J. Goss as director of central intelligence, but they vowed to use his confirmation hearings to amplify their concerns over fatal intelligence failures under this administration.

In other words they're gonna roll over and hand Bush yet another political victory.... When are the dems gonna grow a fucking backbone?
posted by crank at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2004


Well, more gotcha points for Moore. But actually, I don't see any of the things mentioned as being disqualifying Goss isn't going to be doing the snooping and spying himself; he's there to fix an organization.

And by the way, the NYT reports today that the Democrats don't plan to oppose this appointment.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2004


Exactly PP (and I'm a lefty). You don't need to know how to fry a potato to be the CEO of McDonalds. The skills required to run an organization are different than the skills required to get an entry-level job there. There are probably more valid reasons to oppose Goss than his inability to speak Farsi.

As for the Dems in Washington -- they'd be foolish to oppose the appointment now. They'll look like they're stalling on the "war on terror" and hurt their overall cause in Nov.
posted by herc at 3:00 PM on August 12, 2004


Do you mean to say that knowledge of technology and how it works, or of Arab culture wouldn't be of immense value to a CIA director, PP?! I would argue that anyone lacking these skills would risk misinterpreting the intelligence that is given to them.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:01 PM on August 12, 2004


Moore's coming to speak at my stomping grounds. Has the local wingnuts foaming at the snout. I can't wait. (His film is still playing at the University theatre, smashing all records and making more than the entire gross for previous years.)
posted by RavinDave at 3:04 PM on August 12, 2004


It may be somewhat valuable, insomnia, but not really. His job is to be a CEO, not a field operative.
posted by cell divide at 3:05 PM on August 12, 2004


So fucking tired of hearing about Michael fucking Moore.
posted by kjh at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2004


Perhaps he's just being modest???

I hear people say things like "my daughter says I need to get better on the computer, I don't know how to work this damn thing" all the time, and they really are OK at it.

Also, the head of orgs are often good at management, but couldn't get one of the entry level jobs even if they tried, it's mostly about shaking hands and choosing the best work of competing department heads.

Then again maybe he is a bad choice, which would hardly be surprising either.
posted by milovoo at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2004


When are the dems gonna grow a fucking backbone?

the Democratic party is dead; we need them to get a warm, non-Bush body in office until we can get a real party with people of courage, conviction and vision running for office under its banner.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2004


Yeah...I'm definitely not crazy about Bush and the mess he and his cronies have gotten us into, but I think this is definitely pushing it.

I'm _not_ saying that Goss is a great candidate, but I don't think those comments really provide the ammunition to prevent him from getting the job. Can anyone say those things aren't also true of Kerry? He wants to be President! Would they automatically disqualify anyone that he might nominate?

I think it's more a troubling profile of an entire generation of public servants, left and right.
posted by LairBob at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2004


Since when are public agencies headed by CEOs? Is that supposed to equate private and public sector organizations, or what, exactly?
posted by raysmj at 3:09 PM on August 12, 2004


Is that supposed to equate private and public sector organizations, or what, exactly?

I think the point is more that no one assumes the leader of an organization can necessarily do everything anyone under him/ her is capable of.
posted by yerfatma at 3:12 PM on August 12, 2004


You know, there was once a day where being humble was appreciated rather than shunned. Society really has gone down the toilet.
posted by shepd at 3:16 PM on August 12, 2004


I think the point is more that no one assumes the leader of an organization can necessarily do everything anyone under him/ her is capable of.

As our current executive branch neatly demonstrates! *zing!*
posted by solistrato at 3:17 PM on August 12, 2004


Knowing that Bush hand-picked him for the job makes me uneasy, but I'd think that someone who would be able to honestly and freely admit such a thing to a known someone like Moore might be just the sort of refreshingly honest and objective person the CIA needs.

However, the cynic in me laughs to tears at the previous sentence, while the idealist side is running away with fantasies of some goodnik being appointed and going "This agency is defunct and useless! Not to mention malicious and harmful and downright dangerous!" and disbanding it.
posted by loquacious at 3:18 PM on August 12, 2004


Well, the whole point of an organization like the CIA is different than that of a business. (Oh, but I remember Bernie Ebbers virtually bragging that he knew next to nothing about computers and never used the Internet, etc., that he might as well have been selling widgets, all that. Maybe knowing a little something about both might have helped WorldCom?) In any case, the job of the head of the CIA is to help the organization provide better intelligence with which to protect the country and its interests. He'll have to deal with politics, and critical (to life, national prestige, you name it) situations as they intermingle with politics, etc. I can see an argument for him not knowing much about technology, or the Middle East and its cultures - wait, scratch the bit about knowing little about the Middle East. But the comparisons with the private sector aren't convincing.
posted by raysmj at 3:20 PM on August 12, 2004


"It may be somewhat valuable, insomnia, but not really. His job is to be a CEO, not a field operative."

The head of the CIA is bombarded by a ton of information everyday, but if they lack skills using technology, then they will tend to process that intelligence less efficiently. If they lack a background on the subject of that intelligence, they will not see the full implications of the intelligence, or have a good idea of how the decisions they make will effect the region. After all, the CIA isn't just a passive intel gathering organization.

So, yes, in the same way that you may want a general skilled in desert warfare to command troops in the field in Iraq, you may just want a CIA head with sone background in Islamic culture to lead the CIA as it sends hundreds of new operatives out into the field.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2004


Remember, Robert McNamara was pretty much the then-equivalent of a major American corporate CEO when he was named Defense secretary.
posted by raysmj at 3:24 PM on August 12, 2004


> the Democratic party is dead; we need them to get a warm, non-Bush body
> in office until we can get a real party with people of courage, conviction and
> vision running for office under its banner.

...the last such person being Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party candidate in 1948, who got 0 (zero) electoral votes--the same year Strom Thurmond ran as States Rights Party candidate and got 39. (And, oh yeah, Truman beat Dewey.)
posted by jfuller at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2004


I'm a lefty but it seems obvious to me Goss was just referring to his language skills. He seems to be saying that he wouldn't qualify for a job as an operative today, not that he doesn't qualify to run the place.

This molehill will rise no higher.
posted by Bonzai at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2004


In this thread: some valid criticism surrounded by a bunch of smartass-no-one-is-ever-good-enough-if-they're-not-Leftist.

How original.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2004


Man, this is HUGE!!! Moore rips him anuther won!! Thanks insomnia_lj!
posted by shoos at 3:36 PM on August 12, 2004


You know, there was once a day where being humble was appreciated rather than shunned.
Society really has gone down the toilet.
posted by shepd at 5:16 PM CST on August 12


Dude? You are a self-proclaimed troll, I thought you wanted society in the toilet.

Seriously, not mocking, just wondering.
(... because troll is a valid lifestyle choice, if that's your thing)
posted by milovoo at 3:38 PM on August 12, 2004


All the above points on an ideal candidate being granted, if Kerry finds himself President, and he has to limit his candidates for the CIA, NSA and new coordinator posts to Arabist technophiles with the requisite intelligence experience, the pool's just not going to run very deep.

I think there are a lot of concrete reasons to question Goss--he's made public comments like "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation", or "If it's a choice between Big Brother and Dead Brother, it's government's responsibility to choose Big Brother" [that was a clip they played on NPR a day or so ago]. It's not a choice between the two, and we need people who can keep us safe _and_ free. That's the real issue--this Moore stuff is just a sideshow.
posted by LairBob at 3:46 PM on August 12, 2004


ParisParamus: some valid criticism surrounded by a bunch of smartass-no-one-is-ever-good-enough-if-they're-not-Leftist

I usually feel the same way, but I think the resident Leftists are being tempered and reasoned in this thread. I applaud them.
posted by trharlan at 3:52 PM on August 12, 2004


Oh please! Pick a valid argument next time. He was taking about being an operative. Go back to friggin first grade.
posted by HTuttle at 3:53 PM on August 12, 2004


Hopefully the Senate Dems will stick to their previous trashing of Goss, and not approve him. There was just a great post at TAPPED on them caving, and that they shouldn't: The lesson the party should have learned here is that the Bush administration has no intention of playing fair no matter what the Democrats do. Either they can vote for everything Bush wants, or else they can find themselves labeled as obstructionists whose devious actions imperil our security. There's no possibility of reaching a compromise or of somehow appeasing the White House. That is what they should have learned, not just from the '02 midterms, but also from the Medicare debacle where the party leadership spent far too long thinking that as long as they stayed on the inside they could get a compromise bill instead of just putting forward forthright opposition in the first place.
posted by amberglow at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2004



So fucking tired of hearing about Michael fucking Moore.


not to mention tom fucking cruise and mel fucking gibson. and catherine zeta fucking jones. and how about spider fucking man?
posted by quonsar at 4:07 PM on August 12, 2004


not to mention tom fucking cruise and mel fucking gibson. and catherine zeta fucking jones. and how about spider fucking man?

Yeah, but most of them are paid to be good looking, and they are. Moore's paid to be smart, and he isn't.
posted by SpecialK at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2004


Moore's paid to be smart? Are you sure you aren't thinking of Stephen Hawking?
posted by ZippityBuddha at 4:28 PM on August 12, 2004


In this thread: some valid criticism surrounded by a bunch of smartass-no-one-is-ever-good-enough-if-they're-not-Leftist.

said the smelly troll of a thousand threads.
posted by sic at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2004


this porter goss guys seems pretty inept. can he be president instead... anyway?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:36 PM on August 12, 2004


The 2nd line make it funny. It's not as funny as the whole tribal sovereignty thing. Here's the transcript with Jesse making fun of Bush afterwards.
posted by john at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2004


Moore's paid to be smart, and he isn't.

Moore's not paid to be smart, he's paid to be funny and insightful. you may disagree with the latter two descriptives, but i don't think many people will claim Moore to be especially "smart," though he certainly seems to be a reasonably intelligent (i can't say the same thing about the president, who definitely should be a "smart" person).

fuck the whole "blue dress and DNA" thing. as a confirmation test, they should make Porter Goss find out who blew Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan's cover. Condoleeza Rice has admitted somebody did, for god's sake. so who was the idiot, and why hasn't he/she been fired yet? a colossal intelligence breakdown, and nobody cares?!?!

RICE: Well, I don't know what might have been going on in Pakistan. I will say this, that we did not, of course, publicly disclose his name. One of them...

BLITZER: He was disclosed in Washington on background.

RICE: On background. And the problem is that when you're trying to strike a balance between giving enough information to the public so that they know that you're dealing with a specific, credible, different kind of threat than you've dealt with in the past, you're always weighing that against kind of operational considerations. We've tried to strike a balance. We think for the most part, we've struck a balance, but it's indeed a very difficult balance to strike.

posted by mrgrimm at 4:49 PM on August 12, 2004


Yeah, I hate to say it, but I don't think the video lives up to the hyperbole of insomnia's post.
posted by mathowie at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2004


not to mention tom fucking cruise and mel fucking gibson. and catherine zeta fucking jones. and how about spider fucking man?

No fucking shit.
posted by kjh at 4:53 PM on August 12, 2004


that's a hell of a soundbite, btw. how many news programs are gonna show it, you think?
posted by mrgrimm at 5:01 PM on August 12, 2004


So fucking tired of hearing about Michael fucking Moore.

Yeah, it sucks when somebody actually gets up off their ass and DOES something, doesn't it?

:::pointed look:::
posted by rushmc at 5:15 PM on August 12, 2004


It's ridiculous. People seem to blindly accept that someone who can't even do what his subordinates can do can be a manager/CEO/head of an organization. It's crazy! Richard Branson isn't a billionaire because he was born with magical managerial powers, but because he knows how to work at the bottom, and understands his organizations from top to bottom. Ditto for Bill Gates.

But, oh well, when it comes to politics let's just appoint our friends or some guy who knows how to 'manage' but admits he's totally unqualified to be someone of lesser rank within the same organization! This is why we end up with world leaders with crap for brains. Bring on the meritocracy!
posted by wackybrit at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2004


Richard Branson isn't a billionaire because he was born with magical managerial powers, but because he knows how to work at the bottom, and understands his organizations from top to bottom. Ditto for Bill Gates.

First off, prove that claim. Second of all, your two examples do not a rule make. I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong, just that people like to throw things around as if they were so and I don't think your claim holds. At what points do "top" and "bottom" stop? Are you suggesting Bill Gates can code as well as the average hire at MS? Does he understand the process involved in cleaning the toilets?
posted by yerfatma at 5:59 PM on August 12, 2004


Does he understand the process involved in cleaning the toilets?

You don't?
posted by john at 6:24 PM on August 12, 2004


This must be what conservative youth thinks of democratic liberal youth: Effeminate bitches who only want anarchy (in the uk duuuuude) and who's incapable of defending themselves past a select few fast food nation quotes, getting F's in sociology class while hitting their parents up for the cash to get high everyday and fuck their drugged pansy partner.

Oh my God, what is starting to happen to me?
posted by Keyser Soze at 6:45 PM on August 12, 2004


take that gwb -- i have a feeling, any day now, sometime in the next 4 or 5 years you just might find that your precious presidency has come to an end... muahahahahahahaah
posted by Satapher at 7:09 PM on August 12, 2004


If Porter Goss is the right man to run the CIA and implement the findings of the 9/11 commission, then how come he was caught hiding behind his office door in order to avoid widows of those killed on 9/11?

Anyone want to suggest alternate theories as to what he was doing there?
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:11 PM on August 12, 2004


um, so what's the noise about? Goss'll be DCI from October until the third week in January, anyway - a Senate Intelligence Committee member making light of a politically motivated violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act for the good of the Party isn't going to survive the changing of the guard for the sake of stability. He won't even have the voicemail system figured out before he gets shown the door.
posted by Vetinari at 7:27 PM on August 12, 2004


But what if Bush wins? Goss should be looked at realistically, as if this weren't a political year.

Goss, frankly, is dead-on in his critique of his skills. Given the state of the world, we need someone running the CIA who knows the culture, who knows about the various terrorist groups, who knows the significance of the various factions in the Islamic world, and who knows how to use that knowledge to our advantage. Instead, we get a career politician. That's why so many former CIA people are saying that Goss' choice is the wrong one. He can't even be counted on to implement the 9/11 findings in an honest, non-partisan way.

Obviously, the British should've never given a command to T.E. Lawrence during WWI. He was bookish and had "gone native", after all. Why not find someone with better political connections and a nicer smile?
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:02 PM on August 12, 2004


"Are you suggesting Bill Gates can code as well as the average hire at MS?"

Oh, puh-lease. Anyone can code as well as the average hire at MS.

Just kidding, of course. But the truth is that Billy G. has written several pieces of real code (the first MS basic compiler, among other things) and from what I hear they were quite good.

But I don't think Richard Branson can pilot a jetliner, so maybe you do have a point.
posted by spazzm at 8:32 PM on August 12, 2004




The irony here, for me, is that the man is articulating what the present needs of the CIA are or should be and is getting shouted down for it.

I'm going to go read up on his other qualifications, but I found his statement very telling.
posted by rudyfink at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2004


I find myself agreeing with PP on this (go figure) so the guy aint running to be an analyst or Agent, so what, What I wanna know if if he is gonna hide the facts for a specific end, I haven't seen that yet, and if he does we can him in January when bush loses....
posted by Elim at 10:08 PM on August 12, 2004


spazzm, he can fly a super high tech hot air balloon. I'd bet a buck or two he can fly himself around without any trouble.

Branson is the coolest billionaire around. He does what I'd love to do with all that money. Have an absolute blast all day, every day.

As for Goss, if he really feels he's incapable of the job then he shouldn't accept it.
posted by fenriq at 10:27 PM on August 12, 2004


I'm with PP here as well, he isn't going to be intercepting transmissions. Hopefully everything will be translated by the time it gets to him. I'm a bit more troubled by his hiding from the 9/11 widows and his downplaying of the Plame investigation.
posted by jmgorman at 10:56 PM on August 12, 2004


i'm with vetinari on this one.
posted by lescour at 11:15 PM on August 12, 2004


"But I don't think Richard Branson can pilot a jetliner..."

Actually, Branson *CAN* fly a plane. He hasn't logged the 1500 hours needed for a commercial pilot's license yet, however.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:50 PM on August 12, 2004


Well, if we can lower the standards of what it takes to be the president, I suppose we can allow the same of the figurehead of the super-secret CIA. What's a few more fucking steps toward dystopia?
posted by crasspastor at 12:08 AM on August 13, 2004


Nobody has asked the important question here. Would Goss have given that interview if he had known who the interviewers were working for? If not, does that not indicate a lack of judgement and preparedness that should automatically rule him out as head of the CIA?
posted by salmacis at 2:42 AM on August 13, 2004


Louis Gerstner came from Nabisco to lead IBM out of the toilet. I am fairly middle of the road folks, and really want a working intelligence service. If a former spook who is not field qualified can do it then so be it. I can only presume he has the chops for leadership.

As with any video or statistics, I want to see the surrounding footage or data. Without it, any conclusion can be had. What he states in this video isn't much and seems to only serve Michael Moore - who never seems to understand he can dilute his message by doing silliness like this.

I think we need to be focusing more on getting the politics out of Information gathering and reporting (and science for that matter.) If he has the backbone to do that, great!
posted by fluffycreature at 4:45 AM on August 13, 2004


Wow, talk about failing upward.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:03 AM on August 13, 2004


There's one good thing going for him: he knows, and is willing to admit to, his limitations. That has to count for something. It's more than I can say for his bosses.

OK, that's all I got.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:04 AM on August 13, 2004


Should his statements Moore captured be considered?

Yes. But they are grains of sand on the scale. They have "yuk" value, like when Pres. Bush talked about how the rich avoid taxes, so why tax 'em.

The statement about the 'dress and the DNA' and the 'big brother' are FAR more worrysome. The CIA is not supposed to be involved in domestic affairs. These are the 5 kilo weights to put on the scale.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:37 AM on August 13, 2004


Goss is not qualified as "CEO."

He has never run even a medium sized organization.

His poor judgement skills are public knowledge.

He will make a perfect soul mate for John Ashcroft.
posted by nofundy at 5:43 AM on August 13, 2004


I don't know what you Americans are whining about. We Brits have a new head of our intelligence services, who hasn't merely claimed that he's not up to the task, he's fucking demonstrated it.

Ooh. La-di-dah. The head of the CIA says he's not qualified to do his job.

You lucky bastards.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:01 AM on August 13, 2004


the ParisParamus opinion around here seems to parrot a line I hear a lot - that leadership and management is completely separate from the domain to which it is applied. This is not really considered all that controversial a statement, and I tend to agree with it, with reservations.

One of the advantages to commoditizing absolutely everything is that the process management aspect of business can be factored out. Yes, it is far more important for a CEO to be able to manage, to lead, to see the processes at work than it is to be able to understand the steps of said processes in most business situations.

The problems: first, in a typical application of the fallacy of false dichotomy, many seem to take this fact to indicate that domain knowledge is unimportant, which is absolute bullshit. Sure, Lou Gerstner came to IBM from outside the industry, but he took as a lesson from his (rather exceptional) leadership skills the fact that domain knowledge, if not expertise, is important. For every Gerstner there's a fat stack of John Sculleys.

Second, and this is yet another disservice the Bush Administration's mentality does us all, The Government Is Not A Corporation. We have public institutions so we can isolate certain functions of our society from easily corrupted market forces. The functions of government are not so fully commoditized as the various products and services of industry, so executives are less hot-swappable. In fact, in a government-by-private-subcontract world, you need to stack even more expertise high in the org chart, to decrease the susceptibility of the various agencies to the snake-oil salesmen who would milk them for public money. I'm not saying this system is working all that well (witness Halliburton/KBR for one), but this is the theory of its operation.

Third, in Goss' specific case, he does have some domain knowledge: precisely the wrong domain knowledge. We have a set of agencies that, despite efforts to reform them from above, are still somewhat crippled by Cold War era culture. I actually find it somewhat comforting that Goss sees the need to have new skills, e.g. Arabic language, in the agency; these skills were not acknowledged as important by cold warriors Rice, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, which explains in large part the giant bleeding mess that is Iraq. However, do we really want the CIA's transition away from this cold war mentality to be headed by a Cold War era operative?

My main objection to Goss is his disregard for the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. We absolutely don't want someone in the big chair who would trivialize the endangerment of an operative for political gain.

Also, in answer to "what if Bush wins" much earlier in the thread: quite frankly, if Bush wins, we've got much bigger problems that who the DCI is.
posted by Vetinari at 6:15 AM on August 13, 2004


Will the job even matter any more once Bush gets his czar?
posted by rushmc at 6:35 AM on August 13, 2004


This should be a nice addition, say, in the DVD version of F911.
posted by Busithoth at 6:37 AM on August 13, 2004


The worst managers I've ever had can all be lumped into one category entitled "Have no clue what the people under me do on a daily basis and couldn't do their job for 3 seconds if I had to in an emergency."
posted by archimago at 6:54 AM on August 13, 2004


The best discussion I've found on the subject of Goss is over at Crooked Timber.
posted by nofundy at 8:03 AM on August 13, 2004


You know, at this point my preference for Bush winning is equal parts horror for Kerry "leading" the war on terror," and anticipated glee at seeing so many Metafilter people be upset.

Guess what: if Bush wins, except for the terror war, not that much will change--GET OVER IT.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:01 AM on August 13, 2004


Paris - If Kerry wins, not that much will change--GET OVER IT.
posted by dodgygeezer at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2004


Knowing that Bush hand-picked him for the job makes me uneasy, but I'd think that someone who would be able to honestly and freely admit such a thing to a known someone like Moore might be just the sort of refreshingly honest and objective person the CIA needs.

The article states that he was not aware of who he was talking to. And that is telling, as Moore points out. He's willing to give a candid, self-effacing interview, which is good, and he's willing to do it for anyone, apparently, which is also good. I'm kind of on the fence with this one. I think it depends on the size of the organization:

The worst managers I've ever had can all be lumped into one category entitled "Have no clue what the people under me do on a daily basis and couldn't do their job for 3 seconds if I had to in an emergency."

Yeah, me too. Some of the best managers I've had, though, were those that recognized the ability of the people below them and put those abilities to good use.

Why not just have him play some Splinter Cell - that way he could work on his stealth tactics and his computer skills.
posted by hoborg at 12:29 PM on August 13, 2004


Rep. Porter Goss, President Bush's nominee to head the CIA, recently introduced legislation that would give the president new authority to direct CIA agents to conduct law-enforcement operations inside the United States--including arresting American citizens.--from Newsweek: Goss's Wish List

They better not confirm this jerk.
posted by amberglow at 3:08 PM on August 13, 2004


I'd feel a lot better if the nod had gone to Nunn, and not because he was a D. He just strikes me as a calmer, steadier hand than does Goss. Plus, he's been like a laser on nuclear nonproliferation since he left the Senate, if not before then.
posted by trondant at 7:10 AM on August 15, 2004


First off, prove that claim.

His biography is all you need. He's a guy who started right from the bottom, managing to start, get the funds for, and sell advertising in, a magazine by himself before the age of 20. He can do PR himself, he can write (he wrote articles for aforementioned magazine), he can fly a plane, and so on. He might not know how to do every job, but if he had to turn his hand to one, I'm sure he's the sort of guy who could do it. These are people we need as CEOs, not monkey mind managers.

Second of all, your two examples do not a rule make. I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong, just that people like to throw things around as if they were so and I don't think your claim holds.

Of course, although IMHO good CEOs are always generalists and not specialists. They're not just 'good managers', but when they need to be they can turn their hands to PR, writing their own speeches, handing out flyers, or whatever is necessary.

Steve Jobs is, in a way, an exception to this rule. He admits he knows little about the gritty technical parts of his business. He is, however, still self-made, and has an insight and capabilities so far beyond the norm that he's able to get away with letting other people make the low level tech decisions while he sets down strong usability and aesthetic specifications. He will happily veto technical decisions based on intuition and gut feeling, despite not understanding the technicalities, and still comes out smelling like roses.

At what points do "top" and "bottom" stop? Are you suggesting Bill Gates can code as well as the average hire at MS?

Without knowing Gates' involvement in most projects now, this may not be so. This would have been true, however, perhaps fifteen years ago. Gates has significant coding experience.
posted by wackybrit at 10:00 PM on August 17, 2004


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