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Former Chief Of Staff Shares His Experiences

For The Heights

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

chief 4/26

Graham Beck / Heights Editor

On Tuesday, Andrew Card, who served as the 21st White House Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush, addressed an audience on behalf of the Boston College Republicans. Card also served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush, as well as in several positions ranging from cabinet member to liaison under President Reagan. Card is the second-longest serving White House Chief of Staff.

 He began his talk by outlining his career prior to being asked by then-governor Bush to be his Chief of Staff during the campaign.

“I had served under every Chief of Staff scenario that worked under Reagan and Bush, so I knew what the job was like,” he said. “When George asked me to be his Chief of Staff, I called my wife and told her that I will basically be married to him for the next several years.”

He remarked that the best job description he has seen proffered for the Chief of Staff position came from Harvard professor Michael Eugene Porter, who defined the job in three ways: to provide for the care and feeding of the President; to formulate policy; and to market and sell the president’s many decisions.

“My job was to do everything that a good spouse does,” Card said. “But more than that, it was my job to communicate the tough decisions made by the President to those who had to know it. But by far the toughest job was micromanaging the President’s schedule … making sure he had time to talk to his wife and his daughter, who complained the Secret Service wouldn’t let her party as much as she wanted to, making sure when the lawn was mowed, or if the limousines were gassed and ready to go.”

What proved most interesting was his recollection of the daily events on 9/11, which were undoubtedly the defining moment of Bush’s presidency. Card was the one who memorably whispered into Bush’s ear while the President was speaking to students in Sarasota, Fla.

“I was going to do nothing to invite a question, and as soon as I walked into the room, Ann Compton in the press pool from ABC News looked at me puzzlingly—it was unusual for anyone to walk in the room once an event began,” Card said. “Once the teacher was talking to the students alone, I walked over and whispered in his right ear, ‘A second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack.’”

A big part of the job grows out of the dynamic that develops between the president and his right hand man, and a big part of that relationship is managing different opinions and management styles.

“All I asked of him before accepting his offer for the job ‘was that I could be candid with him and him with me,’” Card said. “Even if we disagreed, I respected every decision that the President made — even if I didn’t agree with it — because I knew that he was the one elected President and not I. I watched how hard he worked to make the decision that he thought was right. And I was filled with pride at how he made these decisions and recognized that he had to make them.”

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