Streams

When CEOs Become Politicians

Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - 10:00 AM

WNYC

A huge airplane with TRUMP splattered on the side landed in Des Moines Monday. The Donald was not on board. No doubt too busy yelling "You're Fired!" at some of his peeps. His right-hand-man was onboard, having arrived in Iowa to work the state for Trump and suck the oxygen out of a church-sponsored event for a bunch of actual Republican presidential wannabes.

I for one hope Trump runs. I also hope Charlie Sheen runs. It would make the 2012 caucuses really interesting, and for once in their lives, the paparazzi from all over the world would have a reason to chase cars in Iowa.

But what happens when CEOs run for office? Well, they normally lose (see Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina). Some win and make decent leaders (see Michael Bloomberg and Mitt Romney.) Jon Corzine, the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, was a one-termer in New Jersey and left office with his tail between his legs and a 58 percent disapproval rating.

CEOs, like military generals, have an exaggerated and distorted idea of how much power a president wields. General Eisenhower discovered that when he tried to give orders in Washington D.C. and found that no one jumped. Politics is, after all, about negotiating.

So now we come to the case of Florida.

"[Republican Rick Scott of Florida] doesn’t understand there is a state constitution and that we have three branches of government," said State Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican from New Port Richey who upset Scott with rough handling of his staff during a testy committee hearing. "They are talking about the attitude that he is still the CEO of his former health care corporation, and that is not going to work in this state, in Tallahassee, in my district. The people believe in three branches of government."

The governor sold two state-owned jets without proper authorization, unilaterally tried to kill off a database system to track fraud in the distribution of addictive prescription drugs and then killed off federal money to build a high-speed rail system from Orlando to Tampa. He was sued by a Democrat and a Republican.

State Senator Arthenia L. Joyner, a lawyer and Democrat who took Scott to court said, "It's necessary at this time, I think — because our governor’s new — to let him know this is not a monarchy. He’s not a king. This is a democracy."

This must have come as a shock to the CEO of a huge healthcare company and a no-nonsense businessman who I guess, like The Donald, can do anything he wants.

So for these reasons, I'd like to see Mr. Trump run for President. It would raise the money ante - he would presumably pump a fortune into the race, bring lots of attention and business to Iowa, and who knows, maybe the United States can be run like a business. The Republicans say it can. I hear that every day. So step aside politicians and let a bidness guy give er a try at the wheel.

Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, author of 11 books, 40 years analyzing the Iowa Caucuses, Des Moines Register blogger, and Chief Political and International Correspondent for insideriowa.com

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