Augusta Business Daily

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Thoughts from the General: Role Models: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Perry M. Smith, Jr.

Rather often in life, it is helpful to find role models. Both good role models and bad ones can help you make good decisions and avoid making bad ones. I once worked for a boss in the Pentagon who was a micromanager, did not trust his people, and was afraid to make decisions. After working for him for a year, I learned so much. Often, I would ask myself, what would he have done in a certain situation.  Avoiding stupidity is almost as useful as making good decisions. After a year, this bad boss was fired and soon retired.

For those interested in finding role models, both positive and negative, this list may be helpful. For instance, George Marshall can teach us a great deal about character, leadership, and strategic planning. Judy Woodruff can be a role model for those interested in professionalism in the media. Brad Raffensperger has outlined his philosophy in his well-titled book, Integrity Counts. 

An excellent negative role model is Joe McCarthy.  The book by Larry Tye entitled Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy is highly recommended. This book provides the reader with two negative role models, Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn.

With so much attention focused on Tucker Carlson in recent weeks, it may be time to take a look at folks in the news and compare them with prominent individuals in history.

Tucker Carlson is a host for Fox News.

Fox News anchor, Tucker Carlson has become a skillful advocate for Trumpism. Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham at Fox and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC have skills as spin doctors, but they cannot compare with Tucker Carlson. His skill is world-class. An easy comparison can be made between Carlson and the most adroit propagandist in history, Leni Riefenstahl. Those not familiar with this German filmmaker of the 1930’s may wish to watch, on YouTube, The Triumph of the Will. 

The following is a list of comparisons. As you will see, this list includes some admirable figures and some others. Comments and criticism are welcome.

Judy Woodruff—Edward R Morrow

Marjorie Taylor Greene–Rush Limbaugh

Mike Pence—-Dan Quayle

Brad Raffensperger—John McCain

Donald Trump—- Richard Nixon

Liz Cheney—-Jeane Kirkpatrick

Vladimir Putin— Joseph Stalin

Volodymyr Zelenskyy—–Winston Churchill

Kevin McCarthy—Joe McCarthy

Mark Esper—-Jim Schlesinger

Anthony Blinken—-Henry Kissinger

Mark Milley—- Colin Powell

Recep Tayyip Erdogan—Juan Peron

Mitch McConnell—-Jesse Helms

Tucker Carlson— Leni Riefenstahl

Cassidy Hutchinson—Margaret Chase Smith

Xi Jinping—Mao Zedong

Bill Barr—John Mitchell

Rudy Giuliani—Roy Cohn

Jared Kushner—Bob Haldeman

Jim Baker—Andy Goodpaster

Rachel Maddow—Dan Rather

Brian Kemp—Jimmy Carter

Pete Buttigieg—Richard Lugar

Bob Gates—Brent Scowcroft

Lloyd Austin—Bill Perry

Lester Holt—Tom Brokaw

Amna Nawas—Gwen Ifell

Geoff Bennett—Jim Lehrer

Tim Walz—Hubert Humphrey

Jon Meacham—-Ted Sorensen

Tom Johnson—Ben Bradlee

J. Michael Luttig—John Dean

Names that may not be familiar: Tim Walz is the governor of Minnesota. Geoff Bennett and Amna Nawas are co-anchors on the PBS NewsHour. Michael Luttig is the conservative judge who was sharply critical of Donald Trump at the January 6 hearings.

PLEASE NOTE: The only people on this list whom I know personally are Judy Woodruff and Brad Raffensperger.

Major General Perry Smith USAF (ret.) is a graduate of West Point and later, he earned a Ph.D. in International Relations from Columbia University.  His email address is

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