After reading the November 19 issue, "America's Best Leaders 2007," I was very inspired!
It was a "good news" issue, highlighting some very impressive leaders whom we do not hear much about. It is easy to see why they are so effective. They all have a cause to believe in and wholeheartedly devote themselves to, and all recognize the value of compromise, collaboration, and even accommodation at times. I kept thinking of the phrase "the greater good." Now if only the politicians will take their cues from these leaders. The editorials by Gloria Borger ["The Dems' Immigration Dilemma"] and Mortimer B. Zuckerman ["Hillary Hits a Pothole"] were right on the mark, encouraging decisive leadership from Democrats and, in particular, Senator Clinton. Politicians know they can't please all of the people all of the time, but they aren't even getting how to please some of the people.
"A National Crisis of Confidence" had extensive graphic representations decrying a lack of leadership, and "The Spirit of Teamwork" gave examples of "America's Best Leaders" based on their collaboration abilities and teamwork. But Zuckerman's editorial chided Hillary Clinton for "trying to have it both ways" and her lack of single-minded determination and responses in debates as "vulnerable, overly political, evasive, and expedient." Perhaps this is why the media rank near the bottom of the assessment demonstrating leadership. Is U.S. News trying to have it both ways?
You defined a leader as a person who "motivates people to work collaboratively to accomplish great things." That, combined with Congress's dismal 9 percent rating in inspiring confidence, shows a strong indication that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not fit the Best Leaders category ["A Woman in Charge"]. Time and time again, she has automatically taken a contrary position to any proposal from the Republicans addressing important national issues.
John G. Bestgen
Many of the leaders you highlighted really impressed me, but the person who got me thinking the most was Kenneth Chenault ["The Ultimate Trial by Fire"]. After the 9/11 attacks, he told his employees: "We are going to emerge a stronger and better company." How many other American companies and entities took that stand after the attacks? It seems that Osama bin Laden was trying to expose America's weakness and send us to our knees financially and socially. Comments like Chenault's show how badly bin Laden failed. I would love to see examples of organizations that have grown stronger since September 11. I'm sure the success of Chenault and American Express can be replicated.
I was happy to see that William Foege was included in America's Best Leaders ["A Lifelong Battle Against Disease"]. He is the single person most responsible for the eradication of smallpox in the world and should have been considered for the Nobel Prize. It is sad that the United States and the Soviet Union insisted on keeping live samples of the virus. Falling into the wrong hands, those samples could pose a terrible threat.
Paul W. Ingelin
While I don't always agree with his views, it's refreshing to see a journalist who spends time reporting on a truly pertinent issue ["Using Words to Sound an Alarm"]. While other journalists follow Britney Spears, O. J. Simpson, and the somewhat more important 2008 presidential election, Nicholas Kristof keeps hammering us with detailed analysis of the same messages: Mass genocide is happening in Sudan and Chad, and we are turning a blind eye to it.
I appreciated James Baker's comments on Lee Hamilton ["Carving a Path to Consensus"]. I knew Hamilton when I lived in Evansville, Ind., in the late 1940s. His father was the minister at the Methodist church I attended. He and his brother sat with their mother in the same pew every Sunday morning. At that time, Lee was the high school basketball star. He was admired then as he is now.
Dorothy W. Hale
Kudos to ShoreBank Corp. and Ron Grzywinski and Mary Houghton ["Lending Dollars and Hands"]. They exemplify leadership characteristics every corporation or boss should have: integrity, vision, and drive. In the early 1990s, I worked at Southern Development Bancorporation and was fortunate enough to meet these two individuals. They truly were "regular folks" who were "willing to take a gamble." It pleases me that their gamble paid off.
I was disappointed in "America's Best Leaders." It noted that military and religious leaders and the Supreme Court are groups in which people have the most confidence, yet the story included no one from those backgrounds. Americans have less confidence in Wall Street, business, Congress, and the media, yet the list selects heavily from those communities.
Mark F. Cancian
I have always admired Michael J. Fox for his courage ["From Disease, Determination"]. After watching him on TV when he was so young, it is difficult to believe he has a son ready for college. I hope all his hard work for Parkinson's research will result in a cure in time to benefit him, too. My only criticism is I hated the photograph that appeared with the article.
Eunice S. Barrow
Your "America's Best Leaders" is excellent and timely. I would like to recommend that the selection committee be reconvened to evaluate the current crop of presidential candidates and potential candidates (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg comes to mind) for those and/or other relevant criteria, including the ability to disagree without being disagreeable ["How They Were Picked"]. Perhaps voters who are not among the political parties' core constituents could have some influence to help end politics as usual and address the collapse of confidence in our political system.