Why Carly and Meg will succeed

June 9, 2010: 10:13 AM ET

The business of America is business, as Calvin Coolidge once observed. And never has that been more clear than this morning, where two former business executives have moved one step closer to political power. Both Meg Whitman, former head of eBay and Carly Fiorina, the lapsed HP honcho, won their primaries and are prepared to sweep into office if there is any Republican sweeping in November. Pundits think there will be, of course. And we shall see.

One thing, however, is perfectly clear, as another great Republican was fond of saying. Both have been superbly prepared for public office -- or at least attaining it -- by having amassed significant personal fortunes while they were in business.

Beyond money, which is asset #1, #2, and #3 in politics at this point, business executives have other attributes that all but ensure success in the big arena, including:

  • The ability to feign sincerity;
  • The capacity to do anything necessary to achieve short-term success;
  • Great powers of rationalization when odious acts are called for;
  • Flexible concepts of loyalty, along with the willingness to sacrifice friends and allies when necessary;
  • Access to great wells of narcissism;
  • Well spoken, with excellent presentation skills.

As a group, the captains of industry do have weaknesses, however, failings inherent to their profession that must be watched carefully and guarded against, including:

  • No problem utilizing power for personal gain;
  • Willingness to yell at people, sometimes in public;
  • Flabby recognition of need for consensus on difficult issues;
  • Stubborn when wrong;
  • Impatient with process;
  • Sometimes quite boring when not intoxicated.

None of the latter attributes, of course, are deal killers, or should make any failing CEO think twice before offering him or herself up for the good of the nation.

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