Note to President Bush: Talk to Louis Freeh — fast.
He's on his way out at the FBI. You're on your way into a potential energy crisis. Learn from Louis. Not what to do, but what not to do. It is better to be in front of a problem than simply reacting to a problem. Just ask Louis.
Waco. Ruby Ridge. The McVeigh files. All embarrassments to an institution that should have planned better and reacted less.
I'm not here to judge Louis. But having covered more than a few corporate crises, I know the difference between fighting offense and fighting defense. Offense is better. And right now, Mr. President, you're fighting defense on this energy mess.
It's not even all your fault. You inherited a lot of this. But, Americans' attention span is short; their patience shorter still. And right about now, that patience virtually nonexistent. The prospect of $3 gasoline does that to people. So, you better come up with something to calm those people.
You don't have to solve the problem, you just need to look like you're on top of the problem. Your energy initiative is a good start. But it must be constant, it must be sweeping and it must be now.
Democrats are already calling you a tool of big oil. That's a card they like to play. You can't let them play it. Don't even appear to be taking sides. Demand all sides come together to attack the same problem. I'd recommend a press conference at a gas station. You want to show people you feel their pain, so take some painful steps. But do it fast.
Prove that you're on top of this crisis and not getting consumed by it. Keep expectations low, but hopes high. FDR did that, as did Ronald Reagan. Your father with the Persian Gulf did that.
But you need to be ahead of the curve.
Louis Freeh could give you an earful what happens when you're not.
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