By Geoff Colvin and Ryan Derousseau
October 5, 2015

Two big leadership stories to watch in the coming week, each meriting its own superlative:

-Fighting for the worst leadership job in Washington, representatives Kevin McCarthy of California, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and Daniel Webster of Florida will seek the votes of fellow House Republicans on Thursday in an election to replace Speaker John Boehner, who’s resigning at the end of the month. The big question, which none of them has answered, is how each would be able to achieve anything Boehner didn’t, or how each would resolve the conflicts that led Boehner to bail. Indeed, this election centers on the intractable reality that pushed Boehner out: The most conservative Republicans can’t get their fondest legislative wishes so long as a Democrat is in the White House, meaning the Speaker can either try to please his numerous and vocal conservative members, or try to pass legislation that might actually become law, but not both. McCarthy is the presumably Boehner-like centrist, while Chaffetz is a conservative challenger; Webster apparently hasn’t achieved sufficient stature to have a chance.

The Thursday vote is among Republicans only and does not officially choose the Speaker, a procedural fact that is the basis of Chaffez’s long-shot challenge, announced yesterday. The vote this week is a secret ballot, which McCarthy will likely win, but what counts is an open vote of the entire House later this month. Chaffetz is betting that many conservative members who vote for McCarthy in private won’t be willing to do so on the record, and he won’t get a majority.

Chaffetz’s theory probably won’t work out well enough to deny McCarthy the speaker’s gavel, and who knows, he could achieve greatness. A seemingly impossible job can be a great leadership opportunity. But sometimes it really is an impossible job.

-The most clueless leader of the past month is FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Four of FIFA’s biggest sponsors – Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, and Anheuser-Busch InBev – on Friday called publicly for him to resign “immediately.” You might suppose that when four mammoth customers say it’s time to go, it’s time to go. But Blatter said through his lawyer that he won’t resign. He’s holding to his plan, announced in June soon after the current corruption scandal began to unfold, that he would step down next February. When Switzerland’s attorney general announced in late September that Blatter was under criminal investigation, the sponsors apparently decided their brands were being endangered.

I wonder if it’s significant that while three of the four sponsor companies are American (A-B InBev is Belgian), three of their four CEOs are not. Coke’s Muhtar Kent is Turkish; McDonald’s Steve Esterbrook is British; and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Carlos Brito is Brazilian. Better than any American, they may understand in their bones the global power of soccer, and the danger of its being seen as corrupt.


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