It’s 3 A.M. – Who to Call?

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then candidate Hilary Clinton ridiculed Barack Obama’s inexperience with the now famous ad asking who you wanted to answer the phone during a crisis at 3AM.

In 2016, FBI Director Comey issued his report of the results of the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State as it relates to the handling of classified information.

It is now 3AM in the history of our nation. The results of the report and the state of the presidential elections in 2016 leave one wondering who will lead us in the coming crises.

The report details a number of conclusions that are troubling for a commander in chief’s role as commander. The report indicates:
"Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information."

During World War II, General Eisenhower fired and sent home in disgrace a Major General (reduced to his permanent rank of Colonel) for casually mentioning the possible date of the invasion. (page 164, The Supreme Command)

The FBI report also stated:

"None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail."

Additionally, the FBI report concluded:

"While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government."

Today, it is apparent that our nation desperately needs someone with experience, decisiveness, and leadership to navigate these troubled economic waters.

It is now 3AM and the world is wondering who is going to answer the phone.
The experienced leader must be willing to sacrifice his or her current position to make tough decisions, to be decisive, and to provide strong leadership during the crisis.

In the case of Ford Motor Company which was hemorrhaging cash, Bill Ford was, in 2006, Chairman, CEO, COO, and President. When asked what he needed, Bill Ford replied "I really don’t much care. What I want is the right person"

The right person was Alan Mulally but it was also Bill Ford. Alan Mulally was the right person because he was decisive. He was a leader. He worked with the UAW, with the dealers, with suppliers and with customers to transform a dying company in a dying industry.

Bill Ford was the right person as well. The leadership of knowing when someone else was needed is powerful. Ford placed his ego aside and did the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

IBM faced a similar crisis in 1992. In an equally brilliant move, IBM hired Lou Gerstner, Jr to turnaround "an elephant". IBM was bleeding cash. Gerstner, in his book "Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?", describes his first priority was to restore solvency to IBM.

Ford and IBM stand as but two examples of leadership, decisive and deliberate, that saved two mature companies from extinction.
In much the same way, our Federal Government needs such an historic decision to remain viable.

Temporary fixes and blame game of blaming guns, workplace violence and the minimum wage to name a few are irresponsible responses of a careless politician. The blame game must stop and decisive action must be taken.
In a turnaround, pleasing everyone is impossible. Everyone must feel the pain. Everyone will share in the gain.

Popularity cannot be the objective for the turnaround to be effective and permanent.

In the turnaround, many people will often deny that there is a problem. The naysayers will demonize anyone who attempts to stop irresponsible behavior. In reality, in a troubled organization, someone other than the company will eventually call the shots.

Now, more than ever since World War II, is the time for decisive leadership from a President. A great leader is willing to make very tough decisions. It is time for us to understand the severity of our crisis and that we are willing to do what is needed to save the nation from disaster.

Hilary Clinton chided then candidate Barack Obama about who would answer the phone at 3AM. Perhaps the victims in Benghazi had hoped that we would have picked Mitt Romney.

It is 3AM. As a retired Marine, I implore all of us to take our vote seriously, to make an informed and objective decision, and remember that the lives of millions of servicemen and servicewomen depend upon the decision that you make.

Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan and specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at [email protected] and twitter at @fryan1951.