Credit and blame

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is stepping down today. This imperfect person has received a huge amount of blame for the failure to deliver a Brexit deal. Yet, I believe she had an unenviable task of herding the many and varied egos in Parliament who did not focus on getting the job done.

Living in America, we see this first hand, as posturing is more important than doing. Even before the fear-mongering and storytelling that has replaced civil debate, I have been disappointed in the demise in bipartisanship behavior.

Ironically, the last period of significant legislation occurred when GOP Speaker John Boehner ignored the Freedom Caucus and worked with moderate House Democrats to pass bills the Democrat led Senate would pass into law. He did this enough, that he retired before the Freedom Caucus rebellion ousted him.

Now, only handfuls of significant laws are passed as neither major party wants the other side to get a political win. Actually helping people is secondary to the perception of looking good. We have a president who does the same focusing too much on perception. He even controls his messaging taking credit for things he has little to do with and laying off blame on others when he the finger could be pointed at his efforts.

Blowing a problem out of proportion, making it worse by not addressing the real issues, threatening an action that gets push back from all sides and then coming to agreement on efforts that are already underway, is all a show that is harmful to relationships and commerce. People and companies need more stability in their lives, not less. When applecarts are upset, they have to look at other options.

This month, the US economy will be celebrating ten years (120 months) of economic growth. The president has been sure to pat himself on the back for this and he did provide some short term tailwinds with the tax cut and regulations cuts. Yet, he has only been president for going on 29 months. That means, 91 months of this growth were under Obama and the stock market more than doubled under his watch.

To be frank, presidents get too much credit and blame for the economy, providing at best headwinds and tailwinds. The headwinds this president has caused are more long term – debt, tariffs, immigration focus, pulling out of trade deals, etc. The economy is slowing its growth and more slowing is expected to occur. But, a given is this president will lay blame on others as it slows – he started last fall making the nonpartisan Federal Reserve the bogeyman.

Credit and blame. I have often quoted a leadership consultant I know, who said a great leader deflects credit to others; a bad leader accepts credit even when not due. Think about that as you hear or read tweets from leaders.

Stuck in the mud

The week moves forward, yet two big democratic countries are stuck in the mud. That seems to be as good a metaphor as any to define how political leaders can become the problem rather than solving it.

Across the pond, Parliament firmly knows what they don’t want, but does not know what they can achieve given a hard-bargaining EU. Brexit was sold on faulty data and now the British are headed to a departure without agreement – a hard Brexit. The other option that will likely unfold is another Brexit vote, since politicians seemingly cannot work together. That would lead to a remain vote, in my view as the younger folks would turn out.

In the US, we are coming up on four weeks of a shutdown. Ironically. Republican leaders did not want this, but their boss reneged on a deal and they are forced to go along. What I find interesting that is not getting any play, is the reversal of roles. Previously, it is the boss of the federal government who wants to keep workers working. In this instance, the boss is not going to bat for his employees. Why is that not discussed more? There is a deal to be had, but negotiating with someone who does not use good faith bargaining is not fruitful.

Speaking of less than good faith dealing, the President’s attorney Rudy Guiliani said yesterday that people in the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia, but the President did not. Next, he lied to the astonished interviewer saying the he nor the President ever said no one on the campaign did. That is obviously disproven by multiple instances of full and adamant denial. It is similar to Trump and Giuliani saying the President had no knowledge of hush payments to Stormy Daniela, only to change that position multiple times.

Stuck in the mud. Brexit, the US shutdown and now the US President. His deception keeps pulling him back into the quagmire. Unfortunately, he is dragging the GOP, America and the rest of the world with him.