Peter Martin notes an important parallel between Keating and Obama, and the contrast with the How/Rudd model:
“You can’t micro manage a thing like the Commonwealth. And I noticed the other day that the US presidential candidate Obama was overheard with a microphone on with the British Opposition Leader saying in these jobs you must have time to think and I used to say that to that Gary Gray when he was secretary of the Labor Party, he thought we should have been out all the time talking.
OBAMA: That’s exactly right. And the truth is that we’ve got a bunch of smart people, I think, who know 10 times more than we do about the specifics of the topics. And so if what you’re trying to do is micromanage and solve everything then you end up being a dilettante, but you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the choices that are presented to you.
Obama and PJK are spot on, and this is where Rudd seems to be following the mistakes of Howard. The negative impact of simply not having a time allowance to stop and think is something that I have noted in my own career and have discussed with colleagues – although, as opposed to the Prime Ministerial or Presidential, the pressure is coming from above rather than below.
Good decision-making, policy development, issues analysis – all of these activities require the person to stop doing things and take some time to consider the big picture. We can make decisions on the run by relying on efficient but sometimes inaccurate heuristics, or we can stop and engage our full capacity for both reasoning and creativity.
I find it interesting, and reassuring, that the leaders who I would identify as capable of generating, articulating and working toward a coherent vision recognise the importance of this, while those who I would identify as making policy choices driven by short-term goals (whether I agree or disagree with those goals) have not shown the same recognition.