I’ve been meaning to blog about the discussion around the “Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo” – the interesting article by Rick Perlstein, but it was promptly covered by most of the rest of the world, but in case you missed it, he argues, in short, that Boeing was a great company because it worked to ‘break the model’ with planes like the 747. It then became stalled as it trimmed it’s strategy to the quarterly flow of the markets, and drifted.
I think that’s a useful model, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which his that I think that what people want is a sense of being led toward a vision in which they could share, and that leaders who had integral visions, and could articulate them, had the chance to break open the day-to-day tactical struggle in business or politics and reshape the world.
I like that metaphor, and believe strongly that the Democratic Party is going to be a opposition party until they get that pesky vision thing down and have a vision that is more concrete than “speak truth to power” “peace” “justice” and “impeach Bush.” Those phrases bring back warm fuzzy memories of my own youth, but even then on my most pot- and jug wine addled nights I never expected anyone to actually run a country based on them.Reihan (who’s really smart and you should be reading, BTW) challenges this notion, and points out that Boeing has, once again ‘broken the model’ with the 787 Dreamliner, which appears to be beating Airbus up, eating their lunch and then making them do the dishes to boot.
Conveniently, the ad copy neglects to mention that Perlstein hangs his analysis on the many failures of Boeing, a company relentlessly focused on the “stock ticker” — i.e., short-term financial gains — as against Airbus, for decades a government-backed consortium that engaged in all of that “long-term planning,” what some might call crony capitalism, Atari Democrats loved in days past. Old habits die hard. It’s a compelling narrative. Old Europe is teaching Boeing a few new tricks, or so Perlstein, clearly not a very keen student of political economy, would have you believe. The trouble is that Boeing is kicking Airbus’s ass.
Reiohan, Reihan..it’s a metaphor. It’s not meant as a literal model for how the Democrats should be (Make the Democratic Party more like Airbus Industrie!!…no). It’s a useful way to explain the difference between what the Democratic Party actually does – which it to set policy by some arcane combination of scrivening of entrails (sadly, not those of the political consultants who keep leading it off cliffs) and a secret Esalen encounter group between interest group leaders – and what it should be doing, which is to sit down and craft an explicit vision of how it will make life better and more secure for the vast majority of Americans who are looking down the barrel of unstoppable globalization. Or something, anything that implies a solid connection to the future.