A Political Analogy: A Tale of Two Candidates

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump2

I like drawing analogies when the debate comes to an emotional impasse. The analogy allows you to temporarily escape the emotional issue where people turn a deaf ear to what they think is a challenge to their ideology or bias. It can transfer the topic to one where people don’t own a position and may actually listen to each other. Once you are well into the analogy, you have a chance to bring it back to the emotional issue and hopefully both parties can present their respective cases to the other’s open mind. Maybe.

At this time there is no more emotional topic than the Presidential election.

Here is the analogy. I have been involved in many executive/management level interviews both as the interviewer/decider and as the interviewee. This analogy will take the form of an interview process to fill the soon to be vacated CEO position in a very large corporation. The present CEO is to retire on January 20, 2017. In the primary search, there were many viable contenders but these have now been narrowed down to two individuals.

Many things are to be considered but you can’t expect that any candidate will fulfill the complete wish list. However, in the wish list, there are a number of items that are requirements or should be. Obviously, competence and honesty are important characteristics. The ability to make the right decision on critical issues and then setting guidelines to move forward are very important. Past performance, both successes and failures will be seriously considered. The ability to surround themselves with the best support personnel and to work effectively with the Board of Directors and others within the company is critical. The ultimate goal is to serve the needs of the many stockholders. We must do due diligence checking the credentials, background and indicators of the candidate’s probable performance in our organization. Here is a synopsis of the results on the two finalists.

I will start with CEO candidate “A.”

Candidate “A” has a career stretching over decades. Much of this career is well documented and is accessible to our researchers as is candidate “B.” “A” has an impressive education including degrees from Yale and Wellesley. A quick overview of her past employment shows consistent advancement and positions that would indicate she might be ideal as our next CEO. She has direct experience in our industry. However, considering the importance of choosing the right person for the job, a superficial overview is insufficient. On closer inspection, there are many areas of concern in this person’s past and present; as follow:

1. Over several decades, this candidate’s past is peppered with multiple scandals including some allegations of criminal activity. There have been no trials or convictions but one of the allegations of criminal activity was dismissed very recently because even though there was concrete evidence of criminal activity, it didn’t rise to the level that the prosecutor would pursue it. There was strong evidence that the decision to drop the most recent case was due to the candidate’s significant influence with the prosecutor and the prosecutor’s boss for whom she worked at one time. There was also inappropriate contact between the candidate’s husband and the prosecutor which may or may not be pertinent. It is possible the evidence didn’t warrant prosecution because much evidence was deliberately destroyed by this candidate despite a subpoena issued before the mentioned destruction of said evidence. In the process of the investigation, this candidate repeatedly lied in public. Note: The most recent case involved this candidate’s gross negligence handling her employer’s corporate secrets. This is an area of great concern. If hired, would this candidate do the same here?

a. Subsequent to the above case being dropped, more evidence has come to light which warranted reopening the case despite this candidate’s political influence. At this point, there are at least two criminal investigations open on “A.” This is mentioned for information purposes since an investigation does not indicate that an indictment or conviction will be forthcoming.

2. Under this candidate’s control, a number of people lost their lives. There is some debate on whether or not this candidate could have prevented these victim’s deaths by responding to requests for added security. However, there is no doubt that this individual publicly lied about the cause of the incident including sending out subordinates to appear on multiple media outlets with “the lie.” Allegedly, this candidate lied directly to the families of the victims as well. It appears that this candidate may have been motivated to promote this lie out of loyalty to her boss who was facing a vote. While it is a positive trait to support your boss, this episode calls into question the honesty and credibility of this individual especially considering that there was loss of life.

3. While there is no real proof of a problem, there is evidence of health issues that may impact the candidate’s ability to perform as CEO.

4. Former and present subordinates have released information that this person is difficult to work for and with. Allegedly, she may even be abusive. In addition, candid statements from present associates have appeared which call into question this candidate’s decision making process and her ability to head off obvious problems before they become critical. Note: Many of the negative candid statements were exposed through questionable means but neither the candidate nor her associates have denied the validity of said statements.

5. There is strong evidence that “A” has used her position and influence to enrich herself and her family. Allegedly, this was done at the expense of her employer and charitable efforts. Numerous “pay for play” allegations and mishandling of funds are presently under criminal investigation. At a minimum, there have been many conflicts of interest.

6. This candidate is extremely secretive which may account for “A” having survived past investigations. Personal secrecy may be considered as a smart policy but it is an indication that the scandals were more than the result of lack of foresight but may have been premeditated acts.

7. “A” is likely to have a workable relationship with half of our Board of Directors with animosity from others. This would limit her effectiveness.

There are many more allegations attached to “A” but this is just an overview.

Candidate “B” has an extensive career in business. He also has an excellent education. He is a graduate of Wharton School of Business, one of the top business schools in the world. While this candidate’s experience is extensive, he has no direct experience in our industry. This may be an issue.

This candidate also has many areas of concern; as follow:

1. Recently, accusations have arisen against this candidate regarding sexism and even possible inappropriate behavior. An audio recording surfaced where “B” claimed to be able to sexually assault women with impunity. While the candidate does not disclaim he made the statement, he does claim that he was not serious when he made it. At a minimum, this calls his judgment into question. To compound the seriousness of this issue, a number of women have claimed to be victims of inappropriate sexual advances though none rise to levels of sexual assault. The candidate denies these episodes but the issue persists. Note: We all remember the hugely embarrassing episode where a former CEO was “caught with his pants down.” He denied it happened until proof emerged and many supposed victims surfaced.

2. There is much audio and video documentation that this candidate is prone to making embarrassing, ill considered statements which he eventually is forced to qualify or modify. Many of these statements continue to dog him. These episodes occur most commonly from an insecure position after he is challenged. He is easily distracted from the subject at hand if he is challenged and he finds it difficult to return to the subject. We have reason to expect that this weakness will be a problem for “B” as CEO, if selected.

3. A number of this candidate’s various enterprises ended in bankruptcy. While this is a major concern, this must be viewed in light of his financial recovery and subsequent successes. There is one outstanding issue regarding a failed business presently in civil litigation. Claimants assert that the business fell far short of delivering as promised before it closed.

4. In this candidate’s business dealings there are numerous allegations that “B” did not honor payment on legitimate contracts. If hired, this candidate may not instill feelings of trust on behalf of our company.

5. “B” is unlikely to enjoy the support of many, if any, members of our Board of Directors. This will seriously limit this candidate’s effectiveness.

Conclusion: There is much more in the respective backgrounds of these candidates that cause deep concern. However, just what is stated herein indicates that both of these candidates are profoundly unacceptable for the position of our new CEO. Perhaps most disturbing, both candidates have made grandiose claims regarding what they can do for our company if hired. These claims have endeared each candidate to some individuals involved in the interview process. However, most of the claims of both are unrealistic and financially unfeasible if not corporate suicidal. This is a strong indication of dishonesty and/or disturbing lack of realistic thinking.

Unfortunately, the decision of who will be the successor must be made by November 8 so we are limited to a choice between these two. Further, we will need to live with our choice for many years. Our vetting procedure is, at best, flawed. We have dismissed many superior candidates before doing due diligence on these two. We postponed the in-depth vetting process until after the popularity contest was done and we are now stuck with these two choices.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

David Wolcoff

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