"What these monsters fail to realize is that Americans are now more resolved than ever to see freedom triumph in Iraq and around the world."
- House Republican Conference Secretary Rep. John T. Doolittle of California, reacting to the deadly terrorist attacks last week in London.
Venture capitalist Pascal Levensohn was among those who participated in the Aspen Institute's just-concluded Socrates Society seminar on effective leadership, led by David Gergen, former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.
"Our group of seminarians consisted of 21 men and eight women and included Jews, Christians and Muslims," Levensohn notes on his blog, saying the group "learned from each other as we identified some of the important characteristics that we believe will define the next generation of American leaders."
His brief summary of the three-day seminar:
- Individuals do matter in history, and one person can make disproportionate contributions to society as a leader.
- Leadership means the capacity to mobilize others in the pursuit of shared goals.
- The quality of a leader's relationship to followers will enhance or detract from the leader's ability to be effective.
- Effective leaders can be good - and they also can be evil.
- Leaders is shaped by early personal life experience, and their ability to contribute will be circumscribed by their own historical context.
- Leaders should be encouraged to lead from positive core values and should be influenced by an internal moral compass.
- Leaders are passionate, charismatic individuals driven to make a difference in their society; they find fulfillment and self-actualization from leading.
- The best form of leadership combines idealism and pragmatism. Pragmatic leadership requires flexibility and the ability to be ruthless in the course of reaching your goal.
- No leader lives without personal flaws and weaknesses. One can be an effective moral leader despite having personal flaws (for example, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King) while striving to manage one's darker side.
- Leaders can't erase their weaknesses, but they can manage them. Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton are examples of leaders who failed to sufficiently manage their weaknesses.
- We live in the midst of a spiraling crisis of leadership in the machinery of U.S. government because talented people increasingly choose not to become a part of the government.
- Role models for the next generation of American leaders are more likely to come from the ranks of entrepreneurs (such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs), not from politics.
The American Civil Liberties Union has hired a new top lobbyist in Washington.
Caroline Fredrickson, a former special assistant to President Clinton, a former legal aide to Tom Daschle in the Senate, and currently general counsel and legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, becomes director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office on July 18.
Foremost on her plate: the USA Patriot Act, privacy rights and "marriage" of same-sex couples.
How can federal money be found for rock 'n' roll but not body armor that is desperately needed for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, is irritated to learn that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland has hired a lobbyist to help it secure an earmark for a music program.
"Aside from being wasteful, earmarks are squeezing out funding for more legitimate programs," he says, calling the "explosion" in earmarks - spending items slipped into appropriations bills without congressional oversight - over the past 10 years "a dangerous trend."
"Bob Dylan has sung that 'times they are a-changing.' With regard to congressional pork, we can only hope he's right," the congressman says.
Speaking of top hires, in September the National Association of Manufacturers, the nation's largest trade association led by former Michigan Gov. John Engler, will bring aboard Jay Timmons as its senior vice president of policy.
Timmons, a familiar face on Capitol Hill, was chief of staff to Republican Sen. (and former governor) George Allen of Virginia for 12 years.