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Where Is the CEO Who Can Fix USA Inc.?

The 2016 Democratic National ConventionThe 2016 Democratic National Convention
Could any amount of management stardust fix this mess?Bloomberg via Getty Images

Is becoming President of the United States similar to becoming CEO of big company? That was the topic of a panel I moderated in Philadelphia yesterday, sponsored by the Miller Center, with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu, McKinsey’s Vivian Reifberg, and political historian Sidney Milkis.

The group agreed on some key similarities – getting the right team in place quickly, having a clear set of priorities, and clearly and repeatedly communicating goals. But inevitably, the discussion bogged down in the disturbing differences – the inability to get political appointees confirmed by Congress quickly, the barriers to removing poor performing bureaucrats, and the complete breakdown of bipartisan comity in Congress. Whether any leader will have the ability to repair our badly broken political system was a question that remained unanswered.

Later in the day, I visited the convention hall, where Bernie Sanders’ Bitter Enders were staging an assault on the press tent, and Bill Clinton was proving why Hillary was smart to keep him around all these years. You can read Fortune and Time coverage of the convention here and here.

Meanwhile, if you are still struggling to understand why so many Americans, like the Bitter Enders, have grown cynical about corporate leadership, consider the case of Yahoo Chief Marissa Mayer. By most measures, she failed in her task of making Yahoo a media powerhouse. Yet for that honor, she will receive a payday that Fortune’s Steven Gandel calculates was worth over $120 million. Perhaps she was given an impossible task. But I’m not sure why failing at an impossible task merits that kind of compensation.