The Weekly Quill — Productivity Paralyzed

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The Unknown of the Post-Stimulus U.S. Economy Encumbers Corporate America

Honorable men take full credit for their actions. Honorable men do not belittle, berate and bully. And honorable men shoot equines out of their misery, but only if they are fatally injured. But what of a man who commands his soldiers take no prisoners and later denies issuing such an order even as his subordinates’ reputations are destroyed? What of a man who callously shoots dead two mules and orders them pushed off a bridge because they’d slowed the progression of his armored convoy? And what of a man who encounters a soldier hospitalized with combat fatigue and proceeds to repeatedly slap, curse and threaten to either send him to the front lines or have him killed by a firing squad? Witnesses to such acts including members of the press were a huge distraction for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1943 as he hustled to call in favors to bury the incidents for the sake of the war effort.

Word eventually got out. It always does. In late November 1943, the incidents hit the headlines in the States causing such an uproar that many in the U.S. Congress lobbied for one George Smith Patton Jr. to be stripped of his rank. While this effort failed, the Senate nonetheless delayed Patton’s promotion to permanent major general. And though he never lost his job, the string of incidents cost him the prestigious and historic role of commanding ground forces in June 1944’s invasion of Normandy.

One might hastily conclude that Patton is the last paragon of leadership to emulate. Nothing could be further from the truth. For many, their knowledge of the great general was conveyed in Patton, the 1970 powerhouse film that swept the Oscars earning Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Editing, among others. That’s not such a bad thing as the movie was true to both the military genius and equally his dark side that made him who he was.

George C. Scott, whose status as a Hollywood icon was solidified with that one role, said this of Patton’s persona of which he masterfully took possession: “I believe this man was an individual in the deepest sense of the word. If that is the only message, it’s the goddamndest finest one we’ve had come along in a long time. It is my conviction that had Patton been in charge, the war would have been perceptibly shorter, with thousands less casualties…our position today would have been different in regards to Russia. He possessed qualities and elements in his personality that are sadly lacking in men today.”

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