The Magazine

What Bush Learned at Harvard

His background as an MBA is serving him well and confounding the media

Feb 19, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 22 • By JAMES HIGGINS
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Professional Washingtonians' unfamiliarity with the discipline of management is no new thing. About to leave the White House in 1953, Harry Truman is famously reported to have said that Dwight Eisenhower would have a terrible time as president because it wouldn't be at all like the military; that Ike would "say 'Do this, Do that,' and nothing will happen." "Do this, do that" may have described Captain Truman's experiences in the trenches in World War I. But it didn't apprehend the nuanced management skills Ike had acquired as supreme allied commander. Eisenhower's success as president may have surprised Truman, but it was no surprise to those who understand the skills needed to organize balky allies like de Gaulle and Montgomery and to land 700,000 men on a hostile shore to recapture a continent.

It would be going too far to compare George W. Bush to Eisenhower. But, to take the example of the most recent Bush predecessor who came to office amid media ridicule, no one predicted of Ronald Reagan that he would turn out to be, well, Ronald Reagan. Maybe it's the media's intelligence we should be worrying about.

James Higgins, a Harvard MBA, is an adjunct fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy.