Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Businesspeople Don't (Usually) Get Politics

Watching Carl Paladino blowing it royally in his interview this morning with Matt Lauer just reminded me again of a sad, and in some ways counterintuitive, reality:   businesspeople don't get it when it comes to politics.   Their hearts are usually in the right place on the issues, but when it comes to running for office they flame out.

Not once did Paladino use his few minutes on The Today Show to make points such as:   I'll be a governor not beholden to anybody; I'm in it for one term only, then out; I'm not in it as a stepping stone to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, like Cuomo.

Instead, because of what has to be terribly inept advice and coaching from his handlers, he let Lauer keep him on the defensive the whole time.   So Carl spent the interview defending himself from his own recent stupid mistakes.

Partly this is attributable to advice Paladino must be receiving from thuggish campaign spokesman Michael Caputo, who we understand hails from the operation of Roger Stone, who has a reputation as a campaign maven even though everything he touches turns to garbage.

But that alone wouldn't hurt Paladino were it not for the Businessman-in-Politics syndrome.   Paladino's emerging as another self-made multimillionaire who's not willing to accept criticism or to listen to advice that starts with telling him he's not doing it right.

Just like Golisano, who still can't understand why the ability to make money doesn't translate into votes.

Paladino's in a different league now, a league where he's a zero unless he gets some competent political advice.   Yet that's merely another frequent manifestation of the Businessman-in-Politics syndrome -- a homing pigeon's instinct for finding the most questionable political advisers, in this case the odious Stone.

A competent adviser would have given Paladino pointers such as:   "Don't answer the question the interviewer asks; answer the question you wanted to be asked," and "Your core campaign message should be the answer to every question."

On a different level, the Businessman-in-Politics syndrome explains why the hapless businessfolk who bankroll the Rochester Business Alliance let themselves get talked into endorsing politicians who stick it to them every chance they get.

Many amateurs do well in politics.   But the person from a business background who can pull it off is rare.   Interestingly, the level of business success seems inversely proportional to how they do in politics.   Those who have been the most successful in business do the worst in getting elected.   Does anyone remember Dick Kaplan's comical race against Louise Slaughter some years back?   Brilliant entrepreneur; a true genius.   Lousy politician.

Unfortunately, Paladino suffers from the same problem.   Manifested differently than usual, but in the long tradition of other business people who have made a hash of running for office.

Carl:   get yourself some decent political advisers.

1 comment:

AllanBlockhead said...

With the exception of Mayor Bloomberg, you could be correct. Check out the article in today's (10/29) online NYT about candidates Whitman and Fiorina.