Paul Ryan’s Battle of Kasserine Pass

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General George S. Patton arrived in North Africa with a single mission: lead the Allied forces to victory over the Hun.

But Patton’s assignment was also in response to a miserable and deadly failure of leadership. The failed leadership of General Lloyd Fredendall.

Fredendall was a Francophobe and an Anglophobe ill-suited to wage coalition warfare; a micromanager who bypassed the chain of command – giving orders as far down as company level; a coward, he allowed animus with subordinates to affect his judgment and undercut their authority; and finally, staring defeat in the face at Kasserine, he tried to pin the blame on others.

Abolishing Obamacare was to be the first battle of the new Republican government. For this battle, Republican forces had trained for nearly a decade. But, as we learn so often in history, peacetime generals and commanders mostly fail when the bullets start flying. For example, every US submarine commander in command on Pearl Harbor Day was relieved of command within a year. Mostly because they failed as wartime commanders.

When Trump won and the GOP retained the Senate, America transitioned to a political wartime footing. But Ryan’s boots aren’t up to that rugged turf.

Over on the news channels, the House of Representatives is about to kill Paul Ryan’s failed, horrible healthcare plan. I admit I was wrong yesterday. I expected the bill to pass. And I was okay with it passing. Yesterday.

Today, seeing Paul Ryan scramble, panic, and retreat, I’m glad the bill is failing. Like General Fredendall, Ryan arrived in his position with high expectations. Before his epic failure at the Battle of Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower wrote of Fredenall: “I bless the day you urged Fredendall upon me and cheerfully acknowledge that my earlier doubts of him were completely unfounded.”

Borrowing the words of Dwight Von Zimmermann who chronicled Fredendall’s failure, consider this:

Paul Ryan is a Trumpophobe and a populophobe ill-suited to wage populist warfare; a backroom conspirator who bypassed the House order, crafting a failed bill with lobbyists and cronies; a coward, he allowed animus with the Republican President to affect his judgment and undercut Trump’s authority; and, finally, staring defeat in the face at AHCA, his establishment cronies will try to pin the blame on the tea party.

It’s time for House Republicans to show the humility, wisdom, and leadership shown by Dwight Eisenhower. After Fredendall’s epic failure, Eisenhower ordered him to return stateside and occupy a desk until the end of the war. Fredendall might destroy the desk, but at least he wouldn’t be in a position to get people killed.

I call on the House Republicans, beginning with Missouri’s delegation, to move immediately to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker. Replace him with a leader in the mold of George Patton. Replace Ryan with a Speaker of character and strength equal to this historical inflection point.

Now, on to tax reform.

Neediness

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President Trump is teaching the world a huge lesson. That valuable lesson goes something like this:

Don’t be needy.

Jim Camp is a world-famous negotiation coach. Jim has led some enormous negotiations: labor disputes, huge multi-national buys, and mergers. This is is what Jim says about neediness in his book Start With No:

It is absolutely imperative that you as a negotiator understand the importance of this point. You do NOT need this deal, because to be needy is to lose control and make bad decisions.

Yesterday, I pointed out that most politicians, especially Republican politicians, need every deal. And they use time to get “some deal done.” They delay. They move deadlines (which were never really deadlines.) They change positions.

To politicians,  any deal is better than no deal. 

Republicans need to get any deal done leads to disasters. Big-league negotiators know this.

I’ve written many times about Chris Voss. Chris was the FBI’s lead hostage negotiator for years. Chris is also a big fan of Jim Camp’s methods. Here’s what Chris says about neediness in his great book Never Split the Difference:

NO NEEDINESS: HAVING THE READY-TO-WALK MINDSET

We’ve said previously that no deal is better than a bad deal. If you feel you can’t say “No” then you’ve taken yourself hostage. Once you’re clear on what your bottom line is, you have to be willing to walk away. Never be needy for a deal.

To Donald Trump, no deal beats a bad deal. 

Trump told Congress to vote on Friday. Pass or fail, he’s moving on.

That is leadership. And it teaches a lesson. It teaches people that the days of American neediness are over. Like when Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO workers.

If the bill passes, we have something to celebrate. Celebrate the fact that our President isn’t needy. Because the world now knows that Trump will walk away from a bad deal.

That’s an achievement worth celebrating.