Leadership Is Also About Timing
Breaking new ground in Rhode Island’s top political ranks, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio has made public his daily calendars for the last 18 months, a move that not only shows how and with whom he has spent his time in office, but also the number of days he spent traveling outside Rhode Island on both state and political business.
His daily schedules reflect a range of state, political and family commitments, from an “8:30 a.m. UN conference NYC,” to a noon luncheon meeting described as “Lehman’s/Capriccio” to “dinner with Gabriella & Frankie.”
My impression of Rhode Island Treasurer Frank Caprio is that he’s an unimpeachably honest guy, and he seems intent on running his campaign for governor in precisely the manner not only of an honest guy, but of an affable one: making up for the disadvantage of clean hands by keeping them in constant motion. During his ubiquitous appearances at state-level events of all sorts, Caprio is always the last to sit down — working the room, as they call it.
In that respect, he (or at least his image) is a welcome relief in a profession characterized by scheming and sleaze. The question is whether it makes him the man that Rhode Island needs in its top executive chair, just now, and his case has yet to be proven. He strikes me as the sort of leader a polity wants when it requires rest from the hard work of cleaning up government — after cleaning up the government. In those circumstances, the “right thing” has been clearly defined, and the society wants a chief who will apply it fairly and openly and recoil from immediate corruption.
Truthfulness is better than deception, of course, and straight laces better than knots. With Caprio, we can add in a better display of the correct impulses, compared with the erroneous ones of his likely competition. But that only makes him preferable — not adequate. What we need is not somebody who’s affably honest, but somebody who’s contentiously honest.