The Insiders: President Obama could learn from Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer

It is interesting to watch the president as the reality of the sequester sinks in. President Obama operates at a purely rhetorical level. He does not like to make decisions, because decisions produce winners and losers.  Vapid talk about “balance” and nebulous claims about “investments” in our future suit him just fine. And in Obama’s case, he doesn’t have a boss or board of directors to tell him to quit with the speeches and get to work.

Obama can get away with not doing anything productive in part because his fan base in the media loves rhetoric. The poetry of the left will suffice as long as the president sticks to the script and doesn’t make anyone (except taxpayers) do more or expect less. There are always Republicans to blame when the poor results can’t be hidden.

HANDOUT/REUTERS – Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer appears on NBC News’ “Today” show in New York, February 20, 2013.

Contrast this with Marissa Mayer at Yahoo. The chief executive can’t live in the comfortable world of rhetoric. She has to make hard decisions and she faces real demands. At the end of the day, her success or failure at Yahoo will largely be measured by the hard numbers that appear in her corporate annual report and in the unforgiving reality of a stock price. She will be judged by the measurable results at Yahoo on her watch, not just by what she says.

To the left, a new, young and attractive female CEO is supposed to stick to the script. She isn’t supposed to puncture its view of the “progressive workplace,” whatever that is. Many gasp at the idea that she wants employees who haven’t had to come into work to suddenly do so. In true liberal style, once the privilege was granted, it had become a right. And many commentators who have probably never set foot in Yahoo and have no idea of its challenges were eager to proclaim that those working at home were more productive anyway. How dare she make such a backward-looking decision?

Mayer has to make hard decisions about how her company can make a profit and keep the doors open, and the left bails on her. Liberals expect her to maintain a workplace made in their own image — starting with attendance being optional.

On the other hand, even as crisis approaches, Obama does very little, hiding behind the rationalizations provided by his sympathizers and enablers. He can continue to dither and reap their applause.

It is easy for the president and his handlers to determine which path is preferable. They can do nothing, speak in gauzy, high-minded cliches and let the old liberal bromides substitute for work-a-day problem solving.  Or they could make decisions a la Mayer and risk facing criticism when some people have to forfeit their previously expected benefit. This doesn’t bode well for the prospects of entitlement reform in America.

Good for Mayer.  I’m buying Yahoo stock today. I wish Obama shared her sense of dedication and her willingness to make real decisions that enact change.

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PostScript: Robinson and the sequester