America is desperately seeking Cincinnatus, and the search isn’t going well.
Cincinnatus was, you’ll recall, a highly regarded Roman aristocrat of the fifth century B.C. who was forced by misfortune to support himself by working on a small farm. When the Romans faced a crisis, an impending invasion, the Senate in a panic named him dictator and sent a delegation that, in a famous scene, called him away from his plow and asked him to rescue Rome. He rallied a Roman army, personally led it in battle against the invaders, and defeated them. Then, his job done, he voluntarily surrendered his all-powerful post after just two weeks and returned to his farm.
While obviously no one wants a dictator today, Americans badly want a non-leader leader, someone who disdains the ugly infighting of the capital but has the abilities to lead the nation through serious problems. The latest evidence:
-House Republicans will vote today on their choice for Speaker to succeed John Boehner, resigning at the end of the month. Kevin Murphy of California is the favorite over Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Florida. But that’s only because the potential Cincinnatus – Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – refuses to consider the job. As the New York Times observes this morning,
“Mr. Ryan is a singularity in the fractious House, a figure revered in most conservative circles and respected by virtually everyone else in the House Republican Conference. In a body defined by division, he is a unifying presence anchored in equal parts by strict supply-side budget dogma, social conservatism, appeals to address the poor, and old-fashioned charisma.”
Trey Gowdy of South Carolina may not have realized he was practically describing Cincinnatus when he told the Washington Post on Tuesday, “If I had one draft choice and I was starting a new country, I would draft Paul to run it.” Many colleagues, like the Roman delegation, have asked him to run for Speaker. But he won’t.
-Hedge fund tycoon Bill Ackman is urging billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president. Bloomberg too can bridge political divides, a longtime Democrat who was elected mayor twice as a Republican in a heavily Democratic city, then a third time as an independent. He reportedly considered running for president in 2012 but has shown zero interest in doing so this time. “I think the country is ready for a business-oriented, philanthropic, straight-talking business guy to run for office,” Ackman said. “I would do everything in my power to get this guy elected.” But Bloomberg likes working on his incredibly profitable farm, Bloomberg L.P., and seems unlikely to be enticed away from the plow.
-Even the continuing popularity of the top three Republican presidential candidates indicates a longing for Cincinnatus. Though Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina have entered the unseemly fray, at least they’re untainted by association with the established Washington leadership that Americans roundly despise.
The country would dearly love a Cincinnatus. All evidence suggests it won’t find one. They don’t come along very often.
What We’re Reading Today
Uber hack zeroes in on Lyft exec
Eight months ago, Uber announced it had suffered a serious data breach. Now the investigation has targeted an internet address that the company claims is tied to Lyft chief technology officer Chris Lambert. Lyft denies the allegations. Uber and CEO Travis Kalanick have received permission from a U.S. court to move forward in obtaining information about a separate address that could reveal who compromised the company’s system. Reuters
Fifa suspends Sepp Blatter for 90 days
The decision by the ethics committee could all but end Blatter‘s reign as Fifa president, with new elections coming in February. It’s one of the first moves the soccer federation has made against its president, even as corruption charges embroil the organization’s leaders. Also receiving a 90-day ban was UEFA President Michel Platini, once considered a favorite to succeed Blatter until Swiss prosecutors opened a bribery investigation last month that involves Platini and Blatter. The Guardian
Fiat Chrysler, union avoid strike
The two sides reached agreement last night shortly after a midnight strike deadline set by the United Auto Workers. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne did not provide any specifics of the new deal. UAW President Dennis Williams said it gives UAW more concessions than a previous deal that workers rejected. It now goes to union members for a vote. Detroit News
Obama issues a rare apology
President Barack Obama apologized personally to the president of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Joanne Liu, for the unintentional bombing of a field hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Obama promised to investigate the incident that led to nearly two dozen doctor and patient deaths. It’s a rare act of contrition from a sitting U.S. president. NYT
Building a Better Leader
Nike CEO Mark Parker talks about partnerships
“Our collaborations aren’t transactions. They are relationships – ones that have been built over months or years before they even come to fruition,” said Parker. Hypebeast
Could the perception that long hours equal success…
…actually hurt your career? It’s causing talent to crash and burn. Fortune
Why does Elon Musk fear vacations?
It could be because Musk doesn’t have a proper structure in place that allows him to leave. Or he’s just superstitious. Inc.
Carlos Brito slams SABMiller board
Following SABMiller’s rejection of a $104-billion offer to merge the world’s two largest brewers, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito sent SABMiller shareholders a letter arguing the deal creates “significant value for everybody.” But SABMiller’s board and CEO Alan Clark have refused to negotiate despite large shareholders encouraging them to do so. Brito called on SABMiller shareholders to express their opinion to the board. BBC News
Dell in talks to buy EMC
If successful, it would likely be the largest technology merger ever, given EMC’s market cap of $50 billion. Dell would then likely spinoff EMC’s database unit. Dell may have hinted at the move months ago, when its director Egon Durban talked about the job EMC CEO Joe Tucci had done managing EMC’s virtualization company VMWare. Fortune
GE creates new energy company
Continuing to reposition General Electric as a future-oriented industrial company, CEO Jeffrey Immelt is combining many of the company’s energy businesses into one. The new company, which will focus on energy efficiency, is called Current and already has $1 billion of revenue. NYT
Up or Out
TJX Cos., parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, has announced CEO Carol Meyrowitz is stepping down and will become executive chairwoman on January 31. President Ernie Herrman, who has been Meyrowitz’s planned successor since 2011, will take over. Fortune
Fortune Reads and Videos
Amazon launches its Etsy-killer
The artisan e-commerce shop will be called Handmade. Fortune
Hillary Clinton opposes Trans-Pacific trade deal
It’s a significant break from the Obama administration for Clinton. Fortune
Holiday retailers expect a good year…
…but not a great one. Sales in November and December are expected to rise 3.7%. Fortune
Neiman Marcus unveils its newest outlandish holiday gifts
Motorcycle designed and built by actor Keanu Reeves, anyone? Fortune
On this day…
…in 2003, General Electric signed a deal to merge Vivendi Universal’s entertainment group with NBC to create NBCUniversal. It later sold the business to Comcast. CNN
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|