President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]

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According to The News Hour on PBS, President Obama will keep his
Blackberry, with additional security added, and changes to comply with
the Presidential Records Act.

I'll bet that he stops using it within three months: as the
responsibilities of office start to weigh on the President, I'm sure
he'll accept the fact that he needs to have around him, and to use,
the screens and filters other chief executives have enjoyed. I predict
that the President will accept that he must be offline if he's to
attain maximum effectiveness.

Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator

Re: President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]
On Jan 22, 11:22 pm, Telecom digest moderator
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IMHO, these "record acts" are too strict.  Public officials need the
ability to discuss issues and accept advice in confidence.  Ideas
bantered around in e-mails, IMHO, do not constitute "an official
public record", any more than telephone calls do.

When discussing an issue, all points of view, including extreme ones,
are considered.  Just because an extreme idea is mentioned in passing
(e.g. using nuclear weapons in a trouble spot) does not mean the idea
will be adopted, or the advisor who suggests it is a wild freak.

If society is adamant to know 'everything', than record (video and
audio) the president 24/7.  Everything at all times, after all, his
wife may offer comments late at night (as Eleanor Roosevelt freely

Re: President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]
On Thu, 22 Jan 2009 23:22:53 -0500, Telecom digest moderator wrote:

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Wouldn't less "insulation" from the outside world make a leader more

If your country's predecessor is any example, being fed information
just from a set group (with their own agenda) doesn't do anyone any good
in the wash-up.

Regards, David.

David Clayton
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Knowledge is a measure of how many answers you have, intelligence is a
measure of how many questions you have.

***** Moderator's Note *****

In a word, no: less insulation makes a leader more cold, not more

You are, of course, right in being concerned about the President
getting information only from a small circle of men with hiddne
agendas. Nature _does_ abhor a vacuum, and the space between the former
President's duties and his capabilities was as close to intergalactic
nothingness as I ever want to get: there are too many men and women
lying dead because of it.

Having said that, I will also say that the circle of advisors around
the President can be _either_ too small _or_ too large, but is rarely
"just right". These are matters which have been pondered down through
history, by those much more intelligent than I, so I will stick to
some obvious (to me) observations.

Any leader, whether in politics or industry or charity, knows that
he must seek out and use the _MOST_ accurate information possible,
from those _MOST_ competent to give it. That is why flag officers
routinely eat in the Enlisted mess, because it's the most effective
way to find out if the enlisted men are being fed well. That is why
General officers go to the front line and ask the lowliest Private if
he has enough ammunition. That is why the Chairman of a large,
multinational corporation attends company meetings and welcomes
questions from all comers. That is why President Obama needs, and I
hope will use, the resources of his office to obtain the unvarnished
truth from those citizens who are in the best position to tell it.

For the leader of the free world, finding the truth is a deadly
serious business: every President-Elect gets a very hard dose of that
reality when "the man with the football" comes in and introduces his
teammate, who opens up a practice kit and tells the soon-to-be
Commander-In-Chief how many millions of souls he can dispatch. If
_that_ experience didn't convince President Obama that he's no longer
on the South Side of Chicago, then his first National Security Council
meeting should: he will be confronted with dedicated, disciplined,
patriotic men and women who are willing to spend their own and others'
lives like water in order to assure an ideal which is, in the great
spam of history, no more substantial than the colors of a flag.

It is a truism of both ancient and modern life that opinions are like
noses: everybody's got one, and they love to stick it in everyone
else's business. A Blackberry - or ANY unfiltered means of access to
the President - is asking for an avalanche of conceit to bury the
chief executive beneath personal, social, and societal obligations
that have very little to do with the day-to-day running of his office
and which are, by the fact of their volume, an impediment to clear
thinking, rational decision-making, and effective leadership.

Moreover, those who have the President's ear soon find that _they_ are
sought after, in a way totally out of proportion to their experience
and abilities, because every nation, every governor, every
congressman, and every self-appointed expert in the world wants the
President to hear his or her version of the truth.

The best advice on this subject is what I was tought in the leadership
courses given by the Army: "If you want the low-down, you've got to go
low down". Nobody who is in between the top and the bottom will tell a
powerful men the facts: at best, they give the version of the truth
that they know, and at worst they give the version of the truth fed to
them by someone else who is pulling their strings.

If the President doesn't already know, then I hope he will quickly
learn: he must seek out the truth, not expect it to arrive

Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator

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Re: President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]
David Clayton wrote:
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Have you ever dialled the wrong speed dial or emailed the wrong person?  I've
even had people leave messages for someone else on my answering machine even
though my greeting stated my name clearly.  And, from the message, it was
clear to me that the mistake was not enabled by a linguistic barrier.

The POTUS' confidentiality requirements are much higher than mine; I think it
would be a good idea if his communications tools had extra precautions
built-in against messages being misdirected.  I'm not certain that any
existing device has such a feature, but it would be A Good Thing.

Geoffrey Welsh <Geoffrey [dot] Welsh [at] bigfoot [dot] com>


Re: President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]

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Maybe if he starts getting calls from charities and political
campaigns (!) he will fix the Do Not Call rules....


Re: President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]
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Hewlett and Packard (telecom people, yet!) both practiced this, and also
put it in four words, right?

         "Management by walking around . . . "

Re: President Obama keeps his Blackberry [Telecom]
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A basic critical skill of the President is

(1) to put highly competent people around him who are absolutely loyal
    with no agendas, AND
(2) be willing to hear the facts, as unpleasant as they may be.

FDR was fortunate to have very loyal people and generally (though not
always) was open minded about things.  Eleanor was a mixed blessing
for FDR.  She was able to get out in the country and bring him
unfiltered information about conditions that he needed to have, this
was most valuable.  She also served as a test flagpole for new ideas;
she'd publicize an idea and if rejected by the public, he wouldn't
push it forward but blame it on her.  On the other hand, she received
tons of mail from individuals seeking help and was not afraid to
bother him or his staff with such issues, which they didn't have time

Truman's people were generally extremely loyal to him, but some
critics say that they were not of the highest caliber and also a
little greedy to enrich themselves.  But Truman was extremely open
minded and wanted to hear all points of view before making a decision.

Nixon's primary people were extremely loyal to him.  But Nixon wasn't
as open minded and had too many pre-conceived notions that his staff
only reinforced.

Nixon liked his friend Bebe Rebozo because Bebe never wanted anything
from Nixon and was loyal and confidential.  All presidents need
someone like that but it's very hard to find.

Unfortunately for Nixon, lower level units, such as inherited from
Johnson, despised Nixon and sabotaged him when possible from day one.
They leaked information that needed to stay confidential.  Nixon was
NOT paranoid, people WERE out to get him with a vengence from day
one.  All this contributed to Watergate.  How Nixon handled affairs
leading to Watergate was wrong and extremely well discussed in
history.  But not so well discussed is how Nixon was treated; and that
was just as wrong, and,  _bad for the country_ .

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What is "truth"?  Two people examining the exact same set of facts may
come up with completely different conclusions.

The President's time is limited and he must delegate a great deal of
work to subordinates.  He simply does not have the time to do his own
research and depends on his staff to filter and distill complex issues
down to essentials, but still include subtle nuances that could
influence the ultimate decision.

Today's technology is a powerful tool, but it is no substitute for
_thinking_.  I hope the new president's people don' t think all the
answers are in Google or problems solved via an e-mail.

All Presidents need an "S.O.B." to act as their gate keeper to
preserve time.   There is not time to see every cabinet officer,
member of Congress, or visiting governor who wants an audience.

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