Leadership, horses and faith

Welcome back!

A beautiful Sunday playing a late Fall round of golf! What could be better than that? Actually some ice on my elbow and soaking my aching muscles in a hot bath.....

This week's posting celebrates leadership - in this case from the worlds of harness horse racing and politics.

W.C. Fields once said, "horse sense is what a horse has which prevents it from betting on people."

First a look at the last race - this time the 20th win for the harness racing champion, Muscle Hill, selected and trained by Gregory Peck, my brother-in-law. As you can see from the video, Muscle Hill is a three year old stallion champion who has dominated the harness racing world this past year. His final race - a bittersweet experience for all who have shared in this beautiful horse's victories, as Saturday marked his last race. This time he won the Breeder's Crown at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.

Take a look at his speed and gait. I had the privilege of visiting Muscle Hill immediately after his previous win and was amazed how cool and unaffected he was considering what he had just gone through. Congratulations to Gregory, the incredibly talented driver, Brian Sears, and the ownership team for the most incredibly successful year for any harness horse in history!. Now it's off to stud for Muscle Hill!


Now turning to leadership in the political world....

Ted Kennedy's 'True Compass'

I spent several days last week in Alberta and had the opportunity on the long flights to finish Ted Kennedy's auto-biography, True Compass. While a great tour through recent American history, I was particularly impressed with how he wrote about his deep and abiding Catholic faith. He certainly admits his many all-too-human failings and indeed his own differences with the Church in areas of public policy.

It did get me to thinking about the role of faith in public life. I was brought up to respect people of all faiths - and increasingly - of no faith too. In my view, we shouldn't 'privatize' faith so that it has no role in the public domain. Rather, faith informs us and helps shape our values. If done properly, that can have a profoundly positive effect. If done badly, it can be a disaster. Kennedy obviously spent a lot of time thinking about his religion and seemed to appreciate it even more as he moved through the tragedies and triumphs of his life.

It's a delicate area, as most people don't want it shoved down their throats, so to speak, by political leaders who blur the line. Take a look at this example of HOW NOT TO combine politics with religion:


Isn't that priceless? I can't decide whether the poor guy needs media training or re-programming.
Until next time...


Has Rush Limbaugh Jumped the Shark?

Welcome back!

Political Advertising: New media trends and do attack ads work?

I just got back from a working trip to San Francisco and British Columbia. I was blessed with sunny (but cool) weather, but caught up with family and friends and it was all wonderful[in spite of the anti-customer attitudes exhibited by certain cable car brakemen]. A relaxed outdoor lunch in San Francisco's Union Square was interrupted by a megaphone-shouting group of protesters against the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Signs that read "U.S. baby killers out....". I felt like suggesting they add the phrase "Taliban in" but they probably wouldn't have got the sarcasm. Why can't the protesters do an honest job of raising concerns rather than indulge in such a dishonest harangue? They just do the anti-war side a disservice.

In case you were too busy enjoying your Sunday/Thanksgiving/Columbus Day dinner with your family, and missed my appearance on October 11th's broadcast of CPAC's Nik Nanos Report, here it is (about five minutes in):

Has Rush Limbaugh Jumped the Shark?

I admit to having long enjoyed Rush - in admittedly small doses - particularly as he has skewered the MSM (mainstream media) and various elite political targets over the years. However, Rush may well have crossed an invisible line - not with his failed attempt to be in on a St. Louis Rams football franchise - but with his admission in a rare interview on - yes- the MSM that he is doing it for the money. Rush may have thought he was just being 'honest' in his admission, unlike all the other shills on radio, I guess. However, the moment someone who has espoused his conservative beliefs for over two decades, and is widely seen as the heart and 'soul' of the Republican Party, that is a disaster, which will come back to haunt him far longer and in more damaging ways than his Oxy-Contin problem of years past.
Check it out here:

Why, you may ask?

Well the millions of 'ditto-heads' that follow 'El Rushbo' religiously have just discovered that he's essentially nothing more than a money-grubbing 'entertainer'. It raises profound questions about Rush and his views? If he's doing it for the money, does he really believe what he is saying? If it started to lose him the precious advertising dollars, would he start to change his views? If money is his God, does that mean his views and beliefs are secondary?

IMHO, the public is looking for a vision that is larger than oneself. They are tired of selfishness and greed (if you don't believe it, recall the outrage over banking and insurance executive compensation revelations - let alone Bernie Madoff, today's Adolph Hitler).

Sean Hannity 'Owned' by Michael Moore

Check out Sean Hannity and how he was 'owned' by Michael Moore [Capitalism: A Love Story]in a recent broadcast of Hannity's show.

Elsewhere in the face-off, Sean makes it clear his real interest is that he should be paying less than the 60% tax rate that he currently claims to pay. When he asks Moore what would be reasonable, Moore replied that perhaps 50% would be about right. And besides, Moore added, that he didn't believe that Hannity really paid 60% in taxes. Sean refused a third party look at his tax filing. Then he mounted his attack on Moore, claiming that unless Michael Moore gave up 95% of his earnings then he is a 'hypocrite'. Huh?

Although I am not a fan of Michael Moore, I have to admit he came off looking a lot more reasonable than the completely self-interested Sean Hannity. [Maybe Sean, once again, has taken a page from his mentor Rush, and thought that somehow people were going to support him in his purely selfish look at public policy. Sorry Sean, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it was a PR disaster for you too!

Until next time.....


David Letterman Apologizes....Eventually

Welcome back!

As previously mentioned in this blog, the only serious omission in 'David Letterman's Apologia', was, in fact, an apology to his wife and to his staff.
Now that he has taken care of that oversight (and that was quite an oversight - no doubt doubling his wife's rage levels, let alone the emotional impact on his staff), he can move forward. HIs goal now is to say as little as possible on the case.

A quick analysis of his follow-up apology is that he did an honest job of sharing the pain he has caused his wife. For an incredibly private public personality, it is something we have never heard before from Dave. So we will have to assume that his self-inflicted pain was ratcheted up pretty high on the scale.

He has an interesting way of combining a fairly blunt denunciation of his own behavior with humor. Usually the two don't mix. Because his first statement was missing the apology, he didn't quite find the right balance, but last night he did. So until the next wrinkle in this tabloid gossip saga, he can move on.

Speaking of television, I will be on the CPAC TV network this coming Sunday, October 11th on The Nanos Report, which airs at 10:30 A.M. ET or 7:30 PT and repeated at 8 p.m.ET/ 5 p.m. PT. It will be available the next day online at http://www.cpac.ca. Nik Nanos, one of the country's leading pollsters, has his own new weekly show, He and I discuss the Stephen Harper performance with Yo Yo Ma at the National Arts Centre last Saturday night - in terms of its potential to alter the public perception of the Prime Minister. As well, I commented one as what works and what doesn't in political advertising. It was fun. Check it out - I'll be taking attendance:)

Until next time....


Prime Minister Harper Belts One Out of the Park!

Welcome back...
I attended the National Arts Centre Gala Saturday Night and along with 2200 people in the audience was blown away by sight of the Prime Minister of Canada strolling onto the stage with a drummer and a guitarist and the world's most famous cellist, Yo Yo Ma, the evening's headliner. Before anyone could quite comprehend what they were witnessing, Stephen Harper sits down at the piano and launches into a pitch perfect rendition of "I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends."

The audience went nuts and cheered and applauded throughout as the PM confidently delivered the goods - more in the style of Ringo Starr than Joe Cocker's version.

In one fell swoop, Mr. Harper turned it into a huge political hit. The risk he took doing that was extremely high. All of us know people who can tinkle the ivories in their living room or sing in the shower. But to get up in front of a huge audience with such high stakes and pull it off is exceptional. So, regardless of one's political stripes, you gotta admit, it was a perception-altering smash!

A little birdie told me that the spark for the idea was first lit at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh when Stephen and Laureen Harper (the NAC Gala Fundraiser's Honourary Chair) met Yo Yo Ma.

Check it out on YouTube.

David Letterman Follow-up
I will be on CBC Newsworld Sunday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. EST when I will be assessing David Letterman's handling of his "crisis".


David Letterman's Apologia

Welcome back!
This quick post is motivated by tonight's revelation by Dave Letterman that he had been blackmailed over his "creepy stuff" as he describes it. How did he do? David rolls it out with a combination of humor and 'guilt' over his sexual relationships with a number of women on his staff. From the discovery of a package he finds in his back seat at 6 a.m. to meetings with the would-be screenplay writer/blackmailer, to the handover of a $2 million check to his appearance this morning before the Grand Jury.

How did he do?
Actually he did very well. He reveals the "creepy stuff" was "I had sex with women who worked on this show..would it be embarrassing..yes it would...especially for the women...but that's a decision for them to come forward....I just want to thank the special prosecution bureau, the District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, I need to protect those women, my family and I don't intend to say anything more about this."

After thanking the audience for their patience he continued on with the show.

Coming out of the commercial he reveals that he had invited questions during the break and told viewers that a guy in the audience had said, "Dave I'd kinda like to see that movie!" Good kicker to the story.

Well, once we were over the shock (although many viewers had been apprised of it in the media and online in advance), I believe most of his fans would instantly forgive him due to his forthrightness. He got ahead of the story and told it without defending it. By characterizing it as 'creepy stuff' he took the sting out of it. all in all, it was crisis management 101. If only Roman Polanski had adopted a similar strategy on an admittedly far more 'creepy' admission than Dave's (see below).