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I just got an e-mail from Hillary Clinton’s press office, alleging that Barack Obama copied her “second stimulus” package. He, too, called for a $30 billion package AFTER she did. As Clinton policy director Neera Tanden complained: “If Senator Obama has to copy policy ideas when he’s a candidate on the campaign trail, how is he going to solve people’s problems if he’s president? When it comes to fixing the economy, we need leadership, not followership.”
It reminded me of a moment in the 1998 movie, Primary Colors, where the Jack Stanton character (John Travolta in a terrific impersonation of Bill Clinton) talks about refusing to walk away from a good idea just because he didn’t think of it first. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is campaigning at least in part on the legacy of her husband’s ideas and policies during the 1990s.
Let’s take the two candidates at face value and assume for the moment that a $30 billion package is a good idea. If so, is it critical to figure out who came up with the number first? I’m not sure. While companies value originality in their leaders, they should place judgment as a higher priority. If $30 billion is what’s needed, then both leaders should be out there to explain why.
At this juncture in the delegate race, I understand why this is the stuff of press releases. From a business point of view, I just don’t find myself agreeing with the outrage expressed on the Clinton side. What do you think?
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