Incompetence Through The Lens Of Incompetence

Let’s just spend a moment on reporting versus editorializing. The basic idea is that the first — reporting — provides a description of what has happened. This week, for example, the Bush White House swapped out Andy Card as Chief of Staff for Josh Bolten. That happened.

The second– editorializing — provides a perspective on why something happened or whether the thing that happened is positive or negative or any number of other expressions of opinion. Editorialization is a form of opinion. Reporting is meant to be fact telling.

So, what are we to make of this sentence in USA Today’s article about the change in Chief of Staff at the White House: “The Bush White House already is known for its discipline and managerial skill.”

Is that reporting? Is it editorialization?

Actually, it makes no difference. It is incompetence. It is an incompetent description of an Administration that, in turn, is incompetent.

The Bush White House is among the most incompetent collection of managers and leaders that can be found in one place in America today. Every policy and direction these managers attempt to implement goes sour. Their incompetence precludes any reasonable test of the merits of their ideas. Decent folks can debate issues such as deregulation, homeland security, tax and fiscal policy, environmental and energy challenges and approaches, educational reform, the conduct of war — and on and on. But, the Bush White House puts such debates beyond the pale of actual proof about whether any particular set of ideas and approaches work because, as the track record now brutally shows, nothing the Bush White House touches — regardless of who is Chief of Staff — ever works. Except of course: getting elected.

Perhaps USA Today meant to say that. Perhaps the writers and editors of this article intended to communicate that “The Bush White House already is known for its discipline and managerial skill at getting elected.”

But the last part — the part that could have qualifed as accurate reporting and a reasonable, competent opinion — was left on the cutting room floor.

Or, perhaps USA Today meant to qualify the sentence by reference to some limited group– Washington ‘insiders’, a press corps hungry for an audience, the 30% of Americans who seem wedded to the Bush ideology of infallibility, or maybe others.

But, for anyone who has ever witnessed actual discipline and managerial skill, this comment by USA Today is itself an indication of incompetence.

The sad thing, of course, is that it perpetuates a lie by reinforcing a piece of advertising — a shared idea circulating in our world of markets and influencing folks who are trying to go about their daily lives. The fact that this particular idea is filled with helium does not prevent if from staying afloat — especially when it is ‘reported’ as fact.

Posted by Doug Smith on March 29, 2006 03:54 PM | Permalink

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Question: Where does one find the most incompetent collection of managers and leaders in America today? Answer: The Bush White House. Ouch! Doug Smith, one of America’s smartest consultants, doesn’t mince words…… [Read More]

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