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September 17, 2007

Bushies who'll do better
Posted by Moira Whelan

Fallows asked a question: "Who will come out looking better by virtue of his or her service in the G.W. Bush Administration. Will anyone?"

I've seen some good answers ranging from Richard Clarke to others, but what about conservatives who haven't left the  fold?

I'd put Condi Rice up as someone who will likely gain--either by going back to academia or into the NFL or something, her fame is going to put her into a new category. She's also viewed as more of a victim of the Bushies rather than a hench-woman at this point.

Also, I'd put Meghan O'Sullivan on the list. She was making a name for herself with the Foreign Policy Community before going in. I think she now has some credible "I know how to work the system" experience but isn't on the talk shows enough to label her over the long haul.

Finally, I think Tom Ridge didn't hurt himself and probably gets to sit on a lot of corporate boards now. He avoided Katrina and still has that "likable guy" thing about him. I think he certainly gained a bit of fame without ever having to have the Iraq  albatross hung around his neck.

Also in that category is Marion Blakey who will continue to be as influential outside of the FAA, but with a bigger paycheck. Maybe not in the direct line of fire of the Bush foreign policy establishment, Blakey was a  smart bet of the Military Industrial Complex in that she has the knowledge of the industry but not the blame of the mistakes of the past. She'll be a player long into the future, but far form page one.


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This is an interesting subject but a very odd post. Condi Rice? Some people are as closely identified with the Bush family as she is, but none are more so. Come January 2009 her career in high public office is over -- before it began she was known as a Bush family retainer and an academic administrator, now she has the reputation of a failed NSA and a weak Secretary of State.

She will probably cash in later on the public office she holds now, as will Tom Ridge. That seems to be SOP in Washington these days, so much so that the media barely comments on it. It's not the same as "looking better," I don't think.

So who does? James Comey, for sure. Patrick Fitzgerald. Mike Johanns at Agriculture has done well for a Cabinet Secretary in an administration that has made it hard for Cabinet Secretaries to do their jobs. Down in the bureaucracy Ben Grumbles and Brent Fewell (who left just weeks ago) at EPA have promoted innovative new approaches in the face of many obstacles. Robert Zoellick -- more, I think, for his tenure as USTR than for his work at State, though he faced staggering difficulties in the latter position. Actually all three of Bush's USTRs have been people of exceptional ability. A future Republican President, assuming there is one in the next 20 years, would be crazy not to try hiring all of them. Henry Paulson, though he is probably in his last government job. Christopher Hill, who should not be allowed to leave regardless of who the next President is.

This sounds like a long list, but it isn't. It's like making a list of Soviet diplomats who made a contribution to world peace -- given enough time one could surely find some, but their number compared to the number of people in that line of work would be damned small. George W. Bush has poisoned most of what he's touched, more deeply really than Richard Nixon did. Some people who worked for him would never have seen high office for any other President, and some won't ever see high office because they had to work for him.

If you're going to count people who've improved their earnings potential through service in this administration, the list would run into the thousands, at least.

I thought that the goal was to find those who've improved their reputations in the sense of honesty and competancy.

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