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Look at this photo.  This is a CEO being embarrassed in a very public way by a loose cannon that could have been avoided, if only the CEO's handlers had cared enough to determine the probability (hint - it was waaay too high) that the person in question would try to show up the CEO.  Which in this case is the President of the United States.

Obama and brewer

The picture shows Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, wagging the finger at President Obama.  Here's the details from the New York Times:

"President Obama’s visit to Phoenix got off to a rough start on Wednesday afternoon when Air Force One was met by  Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona — she of the book “Scorpions for Breakfast,” in which she accuses the Obama administration of turning a blind eye to illegal immigration because migrants will help Mr. Obama register more Democratic votes.

Mr. Obama stepped off the plane and was greeted by Ms. Brewer, who handed him a handwritten letter in an envelope that she later said was an invitation to discuss the “Arizona comeback.” The two had an intense exchange for several minutes; at one point Ms. Brewer pointed her finger at Mr. Obama.

Afterward, she told reporters that Mr. Obama “was a little disturbed about my book.”

OK, let's do the math.  She wrote a book that's critical of the president.  The title of the book underscores her "scrappiness" and willingness to take on the big issues, regardless of risk.  She's willing to discuss their conversation on the record after the photo opp of her wagging her finger at the president.  She had a prop that she could talk about to the press after the meeting.  The CEO in question, confronted with the randomness and aggressiveness, tried to shake her and get her off his pants leg.  Which just gave her more ammo.

At what point did the president's handlers not understand that if this meet-up could not be avoided, they should just change the schedule and come to the state under the cover of darkness, in a private way based on security concerns, etc?  What possibly made them think that this wouldn't happen?

I'm on the record as a moderate Republican.  With that in mind, the odds are long that my vote goes Democrat in November.  But seriously - this is what it has come to?  Grandstanding and co-opting our president into your PR campaign? 

If it was corporate America, someone would be fired for allowing the CEO to ever get in this situation.  Protect your leader from BS that is beneath him in your role as an HR leader, folks.  It's a great way to make yourself indispensible to your CEO.

And it's obviously needed, even at the highest levels.

Comments

Steve

Speaking for myself, I've actually instructed my own staff to keep Jan Brewer away from me entirely. It just seems less risky.

Carroll Lachnit

Hey Kris: Love the post.I think this encounter actually served both of them well by burnishing their images for their respective audiences ("Look how tough she is with that socialist non-American." "Look how he stands up to the mad-dog right-wing harridan." I think the president's handlers had a pretty good idea of how this would go down, as did Brewer and her team. It's political theater, not a "gotcha" moment of a blindsided CEO.

KD

Steve - Didn't you used to date Jan Brewer?

Carroll - Ah, the practical girl is in the house! I thought Obama came off as weak in this, unless the left thinks by letting Brewer go crazy they're actually making moderate GOPs like me throw up about the state of the party. Maybe you're right. I wouldn't put my boss in a situation where he looked weak. You'd be in my ear and tell me to avoid it as well.

Come around more often!

K

Interviewer

I agree with Carroll, I don't think he looks weak at all. If anything, he's weak to avoid her and this photo opp. She would have had a field day in the press if he skipped this meeting for "security concerns." She's the one behaving inappropriately here, trying to use him to get more book sales.

Scott Sanders

American politics, the most entertaining programming in today's society......basically my federal tax bill gets me the same thing as my cable TV bill, a few laughs here and there, but overall disappointment.

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