Archive for April, 2018

We’re in a Pickle — Get me John Engler!

We're in a Pickle — Get me John Engler!

The second best advice I ever gave my kids: “Remember to do the things you’re supposed to do and don’t do the things you’re not supposed to do.” Pretty sound, right? Covers the bases, for them and for me. Of course it helped they all had (and still have) really good moral compasses.

But the best advice I gave them was this: “Don’t stake the success of any relationship on your intention to change the other person — you can’t ‘fix’ people, so don’t try to fix them.”

So, is everybody familiar with John Engler? He was the governor of Michigan for quite some time. He also was a legislator. I’ve never met him, but I’ve drawn a lot of cartoons about him. So I feel fairly confident in saying the second of the two scenarios I presented in the cartoon is the more likely. This is not a criticism, it’s an assessment based on loads of evidence.

I leave it to you to judge. But if it was the objective of the Michigan State University Board to appoint an interim president who would work tenaciously to minimize the impact of the Larry Nassar case and related issues, then they made a logical choice.

But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking Engler is something that he is not. He’s not nuanced. He’s not subtle. Often he’s not particularly nice. He’s a doer, a dealmaker. He operates forcefully for his team. So if that’s what you want, that’s what you got.

My advice, then, to the MSU Board would be: Don’t stake the success of your relationship with Engler on any intention to change him. I would also hasten to add that they should take care to do the things they are supposed to do and not do the things they are not supposed to do.

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Snyder Endorses Calley. Calley May Wish He Didn’t

Snyder Endorses Calley. Calley May Wish He Didn't

I don’t blame politicians for avoiding the “politician” label. Politician, after all, is a dirty word. They are all rotten, lying, cheating, crummy, crooked politicians, right? Well… maybe not all. In this representative form of government we all profess to love so much, good politicians are critical to its success. Good politicians are advocates of the people. They listen, they understand, they form consensus, and then they lead.

Last week the Snyder administration announced that the state would no longer supply bottled water to the people of Flint. Governor Snyder can reasonably argue that tests have shown Flint water meeting safety levels. He can tell us the state has spent a lot of money on providing bottled water over the past few years. He can talk in glowing terms of moving forward. So he tried to do the “leading” bit, but not so much with the listening, understanding, and forming a consensus with the affected community — a community he represents.

Politicians often make the “right” decision, but fail in how they implement it. Yes, of course, at some point the bottled water program for Flint needed to be phased out. But shouldn’t that wait till more than 1/3 of pipes and service lines have been replaced? Till safety is assured and a real trust is built?

So despite what he might say, Rick Snyder is a politician. Sure, he’s a former CEO and successful businessperson and all that. But he has also been a two term governor of Michigan, so by definition he is a politician. Just not a very good one.

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Hail to the Victor

Hail to the Victor

I saw an interview with John Beilein after the Michigan loss to Villanova in the men’s NCAA championship game on Monday. It was a fairly standard “what went wrong, what would you do differently, how do you feel about it?” sort of exercise, which Coach Beilein handled graciously. But when the interviewer asked Beilein about his team, he visibly brightened.

He talked about what a tremendous group they are. How they were a team of growth, of “no nonsense,” meaning they took it upon themselves to make the right decisions on and off the court. He acknowledged how fortunate they were in avoiding injuries but their success was do primarily to the players practicing hard and being smart.

I’ve always liked Coach Beilein, but after watching this I thought to myself, “Wow, what a thoroughly decent human being. …I’ll never draw an editorial cartoon about him.”

Well, I was half right. Obviously I did draw him (no, seriously, that’s supposed to be Beilein), but I wouldn’t necessarily call it an editorial cartoon. Typically editorial cartoons challenge power and call out hypocrisy. Current leadership in politics and business seem to provide plenty of that — from fear-mongering to gaslighting to unabashed lying.

So I quickly changed my mind about drawing Coach Beilein to demonstrate the contrast. Recently I did a cartoon about a member of the Trump cabinet and opined in the commentary that at a certain point competency should have a higher value. I would like to add that decency should count for something, too.

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