Paul Ingrassia, author, Engines of Change
In 1979, Chrysler ran out of cash. Its chairman, Lee Iacocca, begged creditors for breathing room and the auto-workers union for concessions. When a nighttime fire ravaged the Manhattan offices where loan documents would be signed the next day, executives and lawyers waded through smoke and water at 2 a.m. to retrieve the papers. Fast-forward to 1983: Thanks to the Reagan recovery and hot-selling new “K-cars,” Chrysler repaid its loans seven years early. Iacocca beamed next to a huge replica of the check—standing, as his PR man said, “like Patton in front of the flag.”
Erin Burnett, anchor, CNN’s OutFront
Pompey crushed Julius Caesar during Rome’s civil war, forcing him to retreat. But Pompey failed to follow through. Caesar became Caesar, changing the course of history. Thanks to social media’s ability to make politicians seem small and petty, none may ever measure up. Power, fame, mystery. Caesar still has it all. Plus a salad and a casino.
Richard D’Aveni, strategy professor, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Richard Nixon’s comeback after his 5 o’clock–shadow debate with JFK and sore-loser speech ending his California gubernatorial bid was miraculous. But Nixon may be poised for an even greater comeback when historians compare his legacy with those of the ineffectual leaders who have followed him. Nixon was the last president besides Ronald Reagan to control the world stage—setting in motion the salt treaties, the opening of China, the demise of the Soviet Union, and many other globe-shaping events. And his transgressions were minor next to much of what goes on in Washington politics today.