GEORGE BUSH VS. THE WORLD….Brad DeLong links to an AP story suggesting that if you challenge George Bush’s worldview with accurate information, you’re sent packing:

Lindsey, while chairman of Bush’s National Economic Council, suggested in September that the cost of war with Iraq could range from $100 billion to $200 billion….Zinni, a retired Marine general who was Bush’s Middle East mediator, angered the White House when he told a foreign policy forum in October that Bush had far more pressing foreign policy priorities than Iraq and suggested there could be a prolonged, difficult aftermath to a war. He was not reappointed as Mideast envoy. Shinseki, then-Army chief of staff, told a Senate committee in February that a military occupying force for postwar Iraq could amount to several hundred thousand troops.

As the article notes, “These men are no longer in the picture.”

Now, everyone has an ideology, and everyone has preconceived notions of what works and what doesn’t. That’s just part of being human.

But a hallmark of good managers is that they are willing to look at real-world data honestly and eventually adjust their thinking if the data requires it, even if it’s painful or embarrassing to do so ? which it usually is. In my business, that means cancelling a product that was your idea in the first place, or admitting that sales was right about that trade show you made them go to. If you’re the president of the United States, it might mean reconsidering the notion that bankrupting the country is a good idea.

Bad managers are either unwilling or afraid to do this. They either insulate themselves, or ignore the data when it’s given to them, or deliberately choose to interpret the data in perverse ways. This is how George Bush strikes me. He simply doesn’t care about whether things really work or not, or what the true effect of his plans is going to be, or what the data says. He just charges ahead because he’s absolutely sure that his instincts are all he needs.

The real world eventually has its way, of course. The only question is how long it takes, and how much damage gets done in the meantime.

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