Posted by: dstieglitz | July 30, 2008

IS CHANGE A CLICHÉ OR IS IT REAL?

The candidates seem to be using the word change because they know that’s what we want. But Change has become a euphemism for “do it my way instead of theirs,” rather than a fresh set of ideas and strategies. Obama offers the same Clinton-Kerry positions we’ve heard before and calls them a change from Bush politics; while McCain cites minor nuances as changes from the policies of the last eight years. In my opinion, we as voters aren’t getting a choice for real change. Our choice is an oscillation back to the Clinton days, or a continuation of the current direction. Neither of which will resolve our country’s growing economic, infrastructure, and world perception issues. We urgently need something new!

In my July newsletter at www.dickstieglitz.com, I introduced the Change Quotient (CQ) to rate the candidates from zero to 100 on their ability to effect change. The three main criteria of the CQ are ideas, relationships, and execution; and each criterion has three sub-factors. For example, the sub-factors under execution are: (1) consistent programs, (2) viable plan for core issues, and (3) a track record for getting things done. During the past month, the ratings for Barack Obama and John McCain have changed as follows:

Change Quotient (CQ) Ratings

                       July   August

  Obama      75        76

  McCain      73        72

By comparison, Presidents Johnson and Reagan (the most effective Presidents in accomplishing change in my experience) rated a 90 and 91, respectively.

In the last month, Obama’s CQ rating increased one point in “Viable Plan For Core Issues” (a sub-category under Execution) because of his successful trip to the Middle East, specifically the support he received from Iraqi leaders on the 16-month withdrawal timetable. Obama’s trip more than made up for: (1) his convenient decision to decline public financing after claiming to support campaign reform, and (2) reversing his position on gun control by supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike-down the District of Columbia’s gun control law. McCain also flip-flopped by dropping opposition to off-shore drilling and lending support to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Since McCain didn’t have a major plus to offset those two changes, his CQ lost a point for “Clear Communications” (a sub-category under relationships) because shifting positions have made his messages ambiguous. Whatever their position on any particular issue, consistency is essential because accomplishing change in Washington takes years. For example, Obama’s execution ratings will continue to increase if he provides further detail about how he would bring the troops home in 16 months. McCain’s or Obama’s CQ could increase if either of them offered a viable recovery plan for our economy – so far, neither of them has.

The ratings will change as the candidates’ programs gain clarity (or not) and they build consensus (or not). With both party conventions scheduled in August, a lot can change. For example, if one of them selected a Vice President from the other party and embraced a truly bipartisan platform that would be change we could believe in! Is either party committed to change enough to do that? In September’s newsletter, I’ll update the CQ to evaluate the Presidential candidates and their running-mates as a team. Hopefully, the platforms will contain specifics on the economy (the #1 issue) in a program that’s creative and viable, and could be supported in Congress. 

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