This week, Joe Biden criticized Elizabeth Warren for being too practical. “We’re not electing a planner,” he said, taking aim at Warren’s ambitious “I Have a Plan for That” messaging. The criticism might be more effective if Warren didn’t have a reputation for converting her plans to action, and if Joe Biden didn’t have a reputation for going off message and saying exactly the wrong thing. You know what keeps you from making a bunch of gaffes on the campaign trail, Joe? A solid plan.
The implication is that Warren is more of a worker bee than a queen bee. She’s good with mundane details and all the boring stuff, but she’s not a real leader. I hate this attitude and I have encountered it all too often.
I once worked with a guy who was not a planner. He would come into my office all jazzed about some new scheme for fundraising or program development. I would ask for details. I would ask for specifics. I would ask for a plan. He had nothing. “I’m more of a big idea guy,” he liked to say. The implication was clear: I’ll come up with the ideas, but you’ll need to make it work.
Here’s what he could never understand: Making it work is the work.
Anyone can come up with big ideas and grand schemes. The hard part is putting the ideas and the schemes to work in a practical, meaningful way. I want someone who is willing to do the hard part.
We don’t have that now. We have a man in office who comes up with nonsense like alligator-filled moats and tells his staff to work out the details. Any minute spent crunching the numbers on federally funded alligators is a waste of my tax money and of yours. And yet, that’s where we are as a nation. You don’t get harebrained schemes like that from a planner.
This insult that really isn’t an insult is most often leveled at women. In many workplaces, men are the dreamers and women get to deal with the details. What these men don’t understand is that their big ideas are often full of flaws and false assumptions and insurmountable budget challenges. All of that has to be considered and overcome before anything will happen. You know what all that consideration is called? It’s called a plan.
So, yeah, I do want to elect a planner to the presidency. I want to elect someone who dreams big, but plans carefully. I want someone who is willing to dig in and do the work once the lofty rhetoric of the campaign trail fades.
I don’t know if Elizabeth Warren will end up with the nomination, but I believe she can be both a good planner and a great leader. The question is whether America really values either of those things anymore. Maybe we have the president we have now, because we don’t want someone who works; we’re only interested in someone who can put on a big show.
I’m tired of the nightmare circus. I’m tired of the show. I want a president who thinks and plans and works hard and considers what she (or he) is going to say before it comes out of her mouth. I want a president who sleeps at night instead of tweeting unceasing madness into the void. I want a president who is willing to compromise, but never at the expense of morality or basic decency.
I believe we have several good options among the Democratic candidates. Elizabeth Warren is one of them. Biden’s right; she’s a helluva good planner. That’s exactly what this country needs right now.