Midnight Bolt to Memphis

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Sitting in the lobby with Will Drake and Vaughtreaux waiting on The General.

Bad moon rising. Fear stalks the campaign like a rabid mongoose.

Radio silence from Little Rock. Senior staff all advised him to quit last night. He overruled them.

There is a path to daylight but not with this staff, this message and so broke they can’t quit for a few days. Victory in Tennessee is the only slim hope. Our direct intervention at every level the only slim hope for that slim hope. Little hope for that.

The hog is in the tunnel. Driven there by The Fear. Never take counsel of your fears spake Stonewall Jackson. Smart man he.

Edwards here in the same hotel. His staff still riding the rush that accompanies the successful execution of an end around, Hail Mary, flea flicker, double lateral for a touchdown with double zeros on the clock. Their brutal comeuppance will come soon enough.

This thing is almost over. I needed to smell it up close. So, at midnight, the gauntlet was thrown down. Drake was rousted from his slumber and manhandled into the back seat of my truck.

But maybe it’s not over. And there is the rub.

I will soon tell my children that if they can find something that makes them feel this alive – they should do that thing to the exclusion of all other endeavors.

(2007)

First World Problems

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As a frequent traveler, I have TSA PreCheck so I can breeze through security without taking off my shoes, leaving my computer in my bag and wearing my jacket.

Until today, I did not know they “randomly select” TSA PreCheck customers to go through regular security. As a result of my ignorance, this morning I found myself standing in a line with a bunch of well-meaning people carrying their possessions in trash bags, wearing their sports ball shirts and wrangling their kids while demonstrating a general lack of awareness of the basic procedures for going through security or breathing through their noses.

Meanwhile, I stare with the dead eyes of a predator at the TSA PreCheck line which is completely empty.

I went through through the five-stages of grief, consulted the iChing, hyper-ventilated and contemplated (only briefly) the consequences of trying to leap a four-foot Plexiglass security barrier.

I have been poisoned by entitlement.

A guy in front of me seemed to think he was being arrested because they told him to raise his hands in the scanner. I remove my shoes, as compliant as a sheep or a lemming. I raise my hands. I am disrobed. Beltless. Jacketless. My belongings in plastic bins festooned with advertisements.

Mysterious rays probe my very being.

My cuff links, a gift from my son and his wife, are examined with suspicion. Cleared, I gather my belongings and reassemble myself on a low bench. I am a free man once again.

Unsolicited Advice: Backstabbers, Naysayers, Blame shifters

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Having been a business and political consultant for 30 years means I’ve learned a few things about the kind of people you should have around you in your campaign. I’ve also learned a few things about the kinds of people you don’t want to have around you. If you have a team that includes a backstabber, a naysayer or a blame shifter on it then do yourself a favor and get rid of them now.

There is almost nothing worse on a campaign or a team than people who, through words or deeds, won’t accept responsibility or who are negative. Get rid of them.

Just this last year we consulted on a winning campaign where the power of positive thinking helped us time and time again. Early on, some people left the campaign after clashing with the leadership a few times on strategy and tactics. Of course, it might have also been because our first poll had us behind by 55-15. It felt bad at the time but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A positive, committed team turned that into a 54-46 victory in just six months. There were disagreements along the way but we had a forward-leaning posture, great team chemistry and strong leadership. That’s a winning combination in politics, in business and in life.