Brad Feld

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A Few Requests for President-elect Obama

Nov 13, 2008
Category Government

I’ve been an unabashed Obama supporter for a while.  I’m glad he’s going to be our next president and am optimistic about his leadership.  I’ve been enjoying listening to some of the punditry ricocheting around about his coming administration now that I don’t have to listen (or – in my case – try to ignore) the endless analysis about the campaign.  A few requests on my part have come to mind as I start to synthesize what I’m hearing.  Of course, I’m not so arrogant to believe that President-elect Obama – or for that matter – anyone in the administration – will care about my specific requests, but since this is my blog afterall I thought I’d toss my thoughts out into the wild.

1. Appoint Some High Profile Republicans to Your Cabinet.  I believe we need to eliminate the extreme partisan divide that exists in the US today.  The best way to start to do that is from the top – if President Obama makes it clear that he has no interest in perpetuating the "partisan politics as usual" dynamic, we actually have a chance to start to change it.  The biggest, loudest way to send this message would be to get the absolute smartest and most capable people in the cabinet, regardless of their party affiliation.

2. Veto The First Pork Laden Bill.  I continue to be baffled by the dynamics around Pork in Congress.  I want my politicians to become vegetarians and reject Pork.  TARP is such a disgusting example of this – as far as I can tell, the only major difference between the TARP bill that failed the House and the one that came back from the Senate and passed was the addition of a bunch of Pork.  Disgusting.  When the first bill hits Obama’s desk that has one key issue in it that is covered with Pork, he should Veto it.  He should then get on TV and explain the bill in clear English to the American population.  He should describe the single issue in the bill, and then list the Pork – state by state, Congressman by Congressman.  He should then insist that Congress revisit the bill, take all the Pork out, and send it back to him for approval. 

3. Continue Being Confident But Not Certain: Amy and I had a great brunch in Chicago over the weekend with a bunch of folks from Wellesley.  The guest of honor was Madeleine Albright (Wellesley ’59) who was the US Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001.  Secretary Albright was amazing and it was so humbling to get to spend some time with her.  When asked what advice she’d give Obama, she said two things.  First – "listen".  Second – "be confident, but not certain."  She described Bush as a president who has been too "certain" – he’s "certain that he is correct on all issues and then never listens."  In contrast, she wants a president who is "confident" yet willing to listen, learn, and adjust his point of view based on the data presented.  That resonated with me – being confident but willing to listen is a key tenant of a great leader in my book.

Now – go download Zynga’s Live Poker on your iPhone and play a hand or two.  If you made it through this blog post, you deserve a break.