I love it when executives drop the whole statesmanlike thing and get down to what really works: Force. The manipulation of fear. The exercise of power. And nothing establishes who's in charge more than a good display of old-fashioned, fist-in-the-face anger. And what conveys that best? Profanity.
Tim Geithner dropped the F-Bomb repeatedly the other day. And I think it's safe to say it's living proof that genuine regulatory reform is now on the way. The Journal writes:
"Mr. Geithner told the regulators Friday that 'enough is enough,' said one person familiar with the meeting. Mr. Geithner said regulators had been given a chance to air their concerns, but that it was time to stop, this person said...
Friday's roughly hour-long meeting was described as unusual, not only because of Mr. Geithner's repeated use of obscenities, but because of the aggressive posture he took with officials from federal agencies generally considered independent of the White House."
In short, there's a new sheriff in town. And he's mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Isn't it about time? Couldn't these cats he's trying to wrangle testify until we enter into the next recessionary cycle? The downturn is easing. Bonuses are once again on the scene. The regulators have a million reasons why one aspect of the recovery plan suits them or not. Don't it make you want to say !@#$? And you can. If you're the boss.
I can only imagine how shocked all the suits in that room must have been when their fellow suit dropped what were four if not ten-letter expletives. Unemployment? Okay. Inflation. Too bad, so sad. Foreclosures and bailouts? C'est la vie. But cursing?! Horrors! And in uniform, too! How... louche! One of the poor, offended regulators was obviously grossed-out enough to whimper to the Journal. You gotta love it.
I guess they'd better get used to it, too. According to 60 Minutes, Mr. Bernanke too isn't above slamming down a phone now and then on people who tick him off, and good thing, I say. When executives start being abusive, things get done.
It could be worse for the recipients of Geithnerian ire. When the young Augustus Caesar was just beginning the career path that ended up making him the best chief executive of all time, he found himself in the presence of a fellow-Roman who had for one reason or another genuinely ticked him off. He didn't discuss the matter. He didn't politely reprimand him. He simply reached out and plucked the guy's eyeball out of head. Then he let him go.
Times have changed since then, but not quite completely, I guess. Which I think is good news for anybody who thinks we need to execute some changes around this place.