January 10 2012
Sometimes David “Axis” Frum gets it just right: “It would be better if more presidents were comfortable with firing,” Frum opines from his new perch at the Daily Beast.
Newly beastly David is referring, of course, to Mitt Romney’s celebrated remark that he “likes being able to fire” people who turn in subpar performances. (Don’t we all?)
David gives examples of presidential failures to fire (some of which I disagree with, but what the heck?), and concludes that the ability to fire people is an asset in a chief executive.
David writes of George H. W.’s inability to fire:
It was son George W. who had to carry the message to White House Chief of Staff John Sununu that he must go, because President George H.W. Bush could not bear to do it. For 13 miserable years, Franklin Roosevelt flinched from firing an incompetent and obnoxious White House cook.
Okay, I don’t so much mind about the cook—after all, he didn’t make policy, and I think this was rather sweet of FDR to keep him on. But David’s point is well taken.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty is also pro-firing. He finds it ironic that charges that it is inhumane to sack a bum are coming from Republicans:
Objections to private-sector layoffs from the party that wants to shrink government? How do we think all of those employees of the federal bureaucracy will get off the payroll? Mass alien abductions?
When you think about it, isn’t it possible that the layoffs enacted when Romney was at Bain constitute one of the boldest moves of his career? One of the times he’s been willing to do something unpopular because he thought it was right, and in the long-term interest of the institution he was managing, instead of following the polls and telling people what they wanted to hear?
Ed Morrissey has a good piece that asks how Republicans expect to reduce the size of government without pink slips.
Firing people or being fired by people is incredibly painful. But sometimes it is the only way to save a business.