Get mad, then get active in public life

Thursday, July 31, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:41 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"What are you mad about today, Eddie?"

I have a few personal heroes. My dad, of course, is number one; he was a very successful small-business owner and a fighter pilot in World War II and winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

I have a few in politics: John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, George Washington, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Harry Truman and Philip Habib, the American ambassador who negotiated the Camp David Peace Accord.

There are three business leaders on this list: Eddie Chiles, T. Boone Pickens and Lee Iacocca. All have or are teaching me how to be mad.

Chiles (1910 - 1993) was a character from Ft. Worth, Texas, the owner of Western Corporation of America and the Texas Rangers, and was disgusted with the state of our nation. "I'm mad," his radio commercials would start. "I'm sad for the Americans who are trying to raise a family and trying to buy a home when ... Washington (is) spending more and more to destroy the American dream." Sound familiar? Chiles was not one to keep his mouth shut when he saw a problem, and he was not the only one mad.

Last week T. Boone Pickens appeared on television with a message. Pickens, an outspoken conservative and oilman, was a true business leader of his day. And I love his name.

Today, Pickens is angry with the lack of an American energy policy. Any policy. His voice is strong in his commercial as he tells you that he has a solution for America's energy crisis. He wants you to visit his Web site, There is no drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or the continental shelf. No promises of lower gas prices. He advocates wind power and natural gas and an increase in solar and battery technology. Perkins has gone green. Visit his site and find out why Pickens is mad.

Maybe it is because my second car was a 1966 Mustang or because I watched him save Chrysler Corp. Maybe because, like Pogo, the title and central character of a long-running comic strip created by Walt Kelly, he knows the enemy, and it is us. Lee Iacocca is one of the most fascinating men I have had the pleasure to meet, even if it was only for a few minutes. If you think Chiles was mad, if you think Pickens is mad, read the opening paragraphs of Iacocca's "Where have all the leaders gone?"

"We got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff. ... We can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.'

"‘Stay the course?' You got to be kidding. This is America, not the damn Titanic. I'll give you a sound bit: Throw the bums out!"

In May I was angry at the absolute lack of any meaningful legislation coming from Jefferson City during the 2008 Missouri legislative session. I am angrier that our federal legislators have done even less to improve our financial, health, economic or energy plight ... since 2000. Nada, zip, zilch ... maybe less.

If Eddie were alive today, he would not be mad, he'd be furious. Our own Mr. Truman, who coined the phrase "the do nothing legislature," would declare war on Congress and our president for the lack of any effort. John Adams would declare a new revolution, and G.W.'s executive branch would be looking for that undisclosed location to hide - again.

Alexander Hamilton describes our current president and his cronies to a tee, that "such conduct ... argues a greater attachment to power than public good ... (while opposing) whatever may tend to diminish the former, however it may promote the latter."

We are Americans; we have the right and obligation to question our leaders. We must ask "Does it work?" We must question Congress' integrity and every nonsensical program devised. We must question why we are drowning in national debt and foreign control. Say something. Do something. Get mad. Get angry. Throw the bums out.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at


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