Miller Center

Interview with Phillip D. Brady

Introduction

Phillip Brady comments on administrative decisions, such as the selections of John Sununu and James Baker as Chiefs of Staff, as well as the political impacts of the Iran-Contra indictments and the economic recession on the 1992 election.

Copyright 2011 the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia and the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. Publicly released transcripts of the George H. W. Bush Oral History Project are freely available for non-commercial use according to the Fair Use provisions of the United States Copyright Code and International Copyright Law. Advance written permission is required for reproduction, redistribution, and extensive quotation or excerpting.

Transcript

Young

This is a recorded interview session for the Bush Oral History Project. I think I now have to say the George H. W. Bush Oral History Project, because I fully anticipate we’ll have a Bush II at some time and we’ve got to keep the record straight with Phillip Brady. Phil and I discussed, while you were outside in the cold, some aspects of the meeting, particularly with reference to his previous talk at the Miller Center and how this relates to that talk. We also discussed the ground rules and I won’t repeat them here because they’re fully understood by him. And I will say for the record that they’re also fully understood by all of us in the room: that we’re all pledged to the rule of confidentiality. So what is said in this room doesn’t go out of the room. And that becomes very important for us because it encourages the respondents in these interviews to feel that they can speak fairly freely, risk-free. So, with that, let me do one more little chore and go around the table, so that on tape the voice can be identified with the person. So, if you’ll just say a few words, more than just your name. Of course it’s Jim Young speaking and I’ve said enough for that purpose. Phil . . ..

Brady

Phil Brady and I’m pleased to be here, and I’ll say more as we go around the table. I’m looking forward to participating in this session and hearing a bit more about the other individuals who we’ll be talking with today.

Riley

I’m Russell Riley. I’m an assistant professor and research fellow at the Miller Center and I’ve kind of come home. I was a graduate student here years ago, and I have the good fortune of being to be able to come back now, that the Oral History program is thriving.

Brady

Now you see your future, Bill.

Riley

It’s not so bad from this side of the table.

Young

Okay.

McCall

I’m James McCall with the Bush Foundation.

Russell

I’m Bill Russell, I’m a graduate student here. This is my second semester. This is my first interview.

Young

That’s fine, Bill. You may not get a chance to speak.

Russell

I know, I’m already aware.

Young

You’re able to, at least when you do.

Masoud

Tarek Masoud. I’m a research fellow on the Oral History Program.

Young

Okay. Well, we’ve all read and absorbed the concise account that Phil Brady gave at Ken Thompson’s invitation at the Senate. So I assured him that he doesn’t need to repeat that because we know it. But there are further things, in addition, that we’d like to hear about, that we think future generations would like to hear about, because that’s the main audience for what’s being said today. There are some other issues that were identified in the suggested topics that we might want to explore, too. But it’s really very fortunate that we have, already, something from you, so we don’t have to start from scratch. I should say also that Phil has been kind enough to help us out, not only in this interview, but in future interviews by letting us have a copy of a very extensive timeline of the Bush years that he put together on the occasion of the opening of the Bush Library in College Station. So, it is far and away the best timeline that I have seen so far, and I think he agrees—

Brady

Modestly.

Young

—that it’s the best. We haven’t had a chance to absorb it now, but it will go into our regular information. So, it’s going to be very helpful. Thanks very much. And if at any time you have—

Brady

I think I gave you one too, James.

McCall

I think you were—I don’t know if you gave me one at—We’ll talk about it later.

Young

And if there are other documents at some time you may want to share with us, we’d be glad to read those too, on whatever basis. So we’ve got five minutes before you have to make your call and it’s a conference call, so it has to be prompt and—

Brady

Maybe I can make a couple of preliminary comments.

Young

Sure. Please do.

Brady

I noted last night that I wish I had more time to really prepare as much as I would have liked to. But I did look at the letters of invitation, which I appreciated receiving, and I noted that I could have brought my former deputies with me or assistants or aides to help in this interview and I wish I could have done that. But I thought I’d share with you one reason I could not, which is that both of my deputies during my time as the staff secretary in the White House are back in the White House, which I think is kind of an interesting historical note.

When I first became assistant to the Presidential staff secretary to President Bush in ’91, my deputy was John Gardner, deputy staff secretary in the White House and he is now the deputy staff secretary in the White House for President Bush 43 as we call him. President Bush, the President Bush I worked with, doesn’t like to be called the elder, so he prefers being President Bush 41. So we refer to President Bush 43 as 43. And my deputy, the last year and a bit that I was staff secretary in the White House, was Dean McGrath; interestingly he’s the deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney now. So, literally both of them are in the White House. So it’s not easy to pry them loose or get them out. But I mention this as a preliminary comment because to the extent that I’d want them to help on some specifics they might recall, I am not able to do so. So I may misstate some things. So with that caveat, I look forward very much to participating. I enjoyed my time, before, at the Miller Center. And that was at Ken Thompson’s request as you mentioned, Jim, and it was a good give-and-take session. You noted that that’s already on the record, and that you wanted to talk about that further, I don’t know what—I know further, but I will certainly make every effort to share any additional information I can.

Young

Sure, and you can pick up some things about yourself that you’d like to talk about that weren’t on the agenda at that time.

Russell

And in 2009, we’ll have you and your deputies back.

Brady

That would be interesting.

Brady

Let me ask a question to start off with, one we didn’t get a chance to talk about yet. We also did something of this nature at Hofstra University.

Young

Yes.

Brady

Have you seen those materials?

Young

To the extent that they will let us. They’re publishing some of the papers. We have some of them and we know about the conference. What’s the status of that?

Masoud

I don’t know. They were able to give us some of the papers, but not all of them. Some of the academic papers—

Young

Because they were being published.

Masoud

Because they’re writing—they’re producing a book or something.

Brady

Because it made me think of what you mentioned, the chronology, because I also did a paper for that conference as well.

Young

That’s not among those that are here. Do you have a copy?

Brady

I don’t have it here.

Russell

You could release it if you . . ..

Brady

I can as long as it’s permissible. I don’t recall if there was any agreement on their retention of publication rights.

Young

Well, we wouldn’t. But what I mean—anything you shared with us is not for any use except for preparing for interviews and for the record.

Brady

Right. Well, that’s what made me think of it, when you mentioned this.

Young

Yes. Obviously we wouldn’t publish it.

Brady

I believe Boyden [Gray] did a paper as well as a number of other White House staff who participated in that conference. So I just mention that as an FYI—that material may be out there. It’s already been done, and it was done more contemporaneously.

Young

Yes, and it was close.

Brady

There was a little more scholarship in terms of the research that was conducted on those papers because they had to be presented in an academic context instead of my ramblings that you’ll get now.

Young

Oh, but that’s what we want.

Masoud

Ramble on.

Young

Well, that’s what people want.

Brady

Was there anything else other than Hofstra? I’m trying to think—Any conferences—Does anyone know?

Masoud

On the Bush Administration?

Young

Right.

Masoud

Hofstra, I think, recently did something with a British university on British/American cooperation during the Bush years—during the Thatcher years. That would have included some Bush stuff, but I haven’t seen any of those papers yet—

Brady

There may have been some other papers done in connection with the dedication of the library.

McCall

Yes. Most of the stuff done there has been national security-oriented, that I’m aware of.

Brady

I tend to agree. I think that’s the primary topic that was covered.

McCall

And those have been sort of not necessarily Bush-specific.

Young

Let’s start off inviting you to talk about how you got connected with the Bushes, or with Bush. We know the results of those connections, but we don’t know how those things came about—how you happened to get in, or get appointed this, that, and start off with the Bushes.

Brady

I think that’s actually an interesting topic to talk about in this sense: there isn’t a cookie-cutter manner in which people become connected in the White House—or with a President or Vice President for that matter. There are people who simply make application to work in the White House, or to work for this individual or that individual, and sometimes when they have the credentials that are desirable, they end up being interviewed and employed. But an awful lot of the time, as you all know, it’s through friends and acquaintances who are aware of opportunities. There are available positions that need to be filled in the White House staff, personal staff of the President or the Vice President. And those friends and acquaintances serve as a go-between in connecting up the requirements of a particular position and individuals they know who have the requisite background or talents.

In my case, it was a very specific example of the latter means of coming into the White House, in that I had a relatively long-standing relationship with Craig Fuller. Craig Fuller was Cabinet Secretary in the Reagan White House. And he had that position because he had worked with Governor Reagan in California, and was acquainted with many of the Californians who came to Washington with President Reagan. Craig served the first four years of the Reagan administration in the capacity of Cabinet Secretary. When Craig first came back to Washington, our families knew one another from California as we’re both originally from Arcadia, California. And when Craig first came to Washington, we got together socially a number of times. I was, at that time, working in the Department of Justice and Craig frankly used me as a sounding board at the Department of Justice on things at different times in his Cabinet Secretary capacity. William French Smith was the Attorney General at the time. And Craig and I maintained a friendship through the first term of the Reagan administration.

Then, as you noted, you have my piece from the last time I visited the Miller Center where I talked about the Chiefs of Staff to Vice President Bush, and later President Bush. In that talk, I noted that Craig Fuller became the Chief of Staff to Vice President Bush because he filled the perceived need in the second Reagan administration for then Vice President Bush to become, in the second term, more public himself; more engaged himself nationally and politically, because he clearly was going to be a candidate for President of the United States. And whereas during the first Reagan term, Bush committed himself to being primarily a very loyal, capable Vice President who assisted President Reagan; in the second term, whether he wanted it to be the case or not, he was going to be viewed by the public, by Congress, the press, as a potential candidate for President. And he was going to have to be more visible.

He thereby decided that he wanted to have a different model of Chief of Staff at that point, and Craig Fuller fit the bill. Craig had the confidence of the Reagan crowd which was, of course, going to be important in terms of the nomination and hopes of election. He had the background in the administration, having spent four years working with the Cabinet. So he knew the issues inside and out, and was considered to be a solid sort of individual who could be a consensus builder, and had the right persona for that particular position.

Craig’s predecessor was an admiral, Dan Murphy, who was a different personality and fit exactly what George Bush wanted in the first term. And that was someone who, again, respected the chain of command—I think I said in my previous comments at the Miller Center—he was someone who kept the trains running and was someone who had a useful military background. Admiral Murphy also filled another need that was unknown at the time Vice President Bush selected him. But it was a very helpful quality as it turned out, because when President Reagan appointed George Bush to be his coordinator for the war on drugs, to try and bring together the efforts of some twenty different agencies that were involved in the war on drugs from the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] to the Customs Service, etc., Reagan also said, Let’s make better use of the military. You, Vice President Bush, are in a perfect position to both coordinate the efforts of the various civilian agencies, but also to bring the military in a supporting role. So, in terms of his background, Admiral Murphy was perfectly positioned to assist then-Vice President Bush.

Young

Were you involved at that point? Were you involved in the drug—

Brady

That’s where I’m going with this.

Young

Okay. Okay.

Brady

I know it’s a long story but I believe it does tie in. And I think it’s almost necessary to go into some detail to put it into perspective. So Dan Murphy was assisting Vice President Bush in meeting his drug czar responsibilities. In fact, as Craig told me in later conversations, he was perhaps spending 80 percent of his time as Chief of Staff to Vice President Bush making this assignment from President Reagan work: namely, coordinating all the efforts of the administration, including seeking the support of the military in this war on drugs.

At this time, it’s hard to appreciate why that would be the case, but at that time, the drug problem was a real crisis. In particular in south Florida there was a crying need for a very focused, national effort as south Florida was becoming a transshipment point for tremendous amounts of narcotics coming into the country. And it was becoming—in one analogy that was used—it was becoming almost like the Wild West down there—you know, gangland-style executions, etc. And so the first thing that Admiral Murphy did, under Vice President Bush’s leadership, was to establish a South Florida Task Force, to coordinate the efforts of all the various anti-drug agencies and to bring the military to bear as appropriate within the confines of the posse comitatus law.

And when that proved to be successful—and was even so acknowledged by the press to a great degree—it was expanded to a nationwide interdiction system called NNBIS, National Narcotic Border Interdiction System, using the same model that they had put together in south Florida, coordinating the efforts of all the federal agencies and utilizing the military in a support role. That was a full-blown nationwide operation at the end of the first term of the Reagan administration.

And returning to what I said at the outset, Vice President Bush in the second term of the Reagan administration, recognized he needed to have a broader visibility and a Chief of Staff with different strengths. And Craig knew me from the Department of Justice, and knew that I’d been involved with some of the anti-drug efforts in the Department of Justice and with individuals, who were engaged in the Department of Justice’s cooperation in the war on drugs, which, again, is through the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], through the DEA, through the US Attorney’s office, etc. And Craig talked to me about whether or not I’d be interested in coming into then-Vice President Bush’s office and assuming the responsibilities that Admiral Murphy had assumed. So it was one of those invitations that you couldn’t say no to. It was a wonderful opportunity.

I did not have any prior association with Vice President Bush. I did not know the people on his staff. I had had some dealing with Boyden Gray as the counsel to then-Vice President Bush. And the position I assumed was as a deputy assistant to the Vice President. And the war on drugs was my primary responsibility initially, then it expanded into some other responsibilities, such as in the public liaison-type area, and some work for Boyden Gray on some legal issues, again, given my Justice Department background. That’s the story on how my association with President Bush evolved.

Young

So your first real association with Bush via this route was when he was Vice President.

Brady

Absolutely.

Young

Did I hear you just mention public liaison as one of the things you expanded into as deputy assistant to the Vice President? Was that a significant part of what you were doing?

Brady

It increasingly became so. Because as NNBIS—again, that’s that national border interdiction system—evolved and the NNBIS staff increasingly became comfortable in their responsibilities and their assignments, the hands-on need within the Vice President’s office for somebody forcing the system to cooperate became less and less. There still were lots of activities, but they weren’t the time-consuming sort that you have when you’re still kicking off a program of that nature. Also, Craig’s focus increasingly became external and more broadly political as we prepared through the second term. And so he was overloaded with some of the Vice Presidential responsibilities that needed to be performed, and increasingly he turned some of those over to me. Those were, many times, in the public liaison area—interaction with the interest groups out there, and typically we focused on areas where I had a background or familiarity with for one reason or another. But those groups became an important part of my daily routine.

Young

Could you give us some examples of the types of groups that figured significantly in this kind of work for the Vice President?

Brady

Yes. Increasingly the Vice President was being asked to speak before different groups and obviously he could only speak before so many of those groups, and so you would have surrogates, and I would be a surrogate on occasion. And there were be also instances where those groups are seeking action on this proposal or that proposal, and they’re seeking an audience with the Vice President, and again, he could only meet with so many. And so I would be the one who would speak with them, and get the background and the information, and forward it to Craig and then to the Vice President to see what action if any to take—if it was appropriate to take it that extra step.

For example, given his involvement in south Florida—anticipating your next question—immigration issues were very big down there, and his son Jeb, who lived in Miami, was frequently asked to address different immigration topics. That’s something, again, having come from the Department of Justice, in which I had a background, as the Immigration and Naturalization Service is part of the Department of Justice so I would be involved in those discussions.

Young

Any questions to further that? Or shall we move on to the next step?

Riley

No, I’m wondering about the evolution of the relationship with the people in the White House at this time—the Reagan people.

Brady

That’s a good question.

Riley

In some of your earlier comments, you had said that Bush stressed absolutely the need for loyalty, at least in the first term. In the second term, obviously the loyalty factor was still there, but there is some need to establish some degree of independence in order to spin off into a campaign mode. And I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit—Maybe these perceptions are wrong, maybe the sense was that there is no difference, but were there ways that the Vice President was attempting to establish himself as his own man, so to speak, later on? Do you see these efforts to establish a kind of political independence there?

Brady

Absolutely, and that’s a very good question, and you’re right that there can be a sensitivity between the President’s staff and the Vice President’s staff. It will be interesting to see how it evolves in Bush 43, given the very close relationship between the people in both offices. And Craig’s selection as Chief of Staff—I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before—but Craig’s selection, in part, was in response to that—by bringing someone who was clearly a part of the core Reagan White House staff and making him the Chief of Staff to the Vice President. Vice President Bush was seeking, as much as humanly possible, to assist in integrating the White House staff of both the President and the Vice President.

And in terms of Vice President Bush increasingly needing to highlight his own credentials and make his own case for being elected in his own right as President, certainly that was proceeding, and actually had occurred in the first term with President Reagan giving the Vice President responsibility for the war on drugs. I focus on that area not simply because that was something I was intimately involved in, but it was also a ground-breaking initiative because it put the Vice President in potential conflict with a lot of Cabinet officers. He had to bring them together, knock heads, and get them to agree that, for example, the Justice Department must detail a bunch of people to go work with some customs agency people to work with some DOD [Department of Defense] people—and their best and their brightest in some cases. And you can imagine, as scholars, that this is not an easy thing to do, and you needed to have the prestige of the Vice President to do it.

I often, interestingly, hear talk about the very close relationship that exists between Vice President Gore and President Clinton, and how he is one of the most engaged Vice Presidents in history. I really think that sort of relationship began with Vice President Bush and President Reagan. They had lunch literally once a week, and it was sacrosanct time. And Vice President Bush had his office in the West Wing and much of the time worked out of his office in the West Wing, as well as his office in the OEOB [Old Executive Office Building].

I’ve seen and read some articles about how there were frictions between President Reagan and Vice President Bush, but I certainly didn’t see them. There certainly weren’t frictions between the two men. But, going back to your question—between the staffs, yes, there could be tensions. And some of them were over the silliest things: examples include the fact there were only so many parking spaces on West Executive Ave., there were only so many people who could dine in the White House mess. These are silly sort of examples, but—tensions could also arise in policy development—where does the Vice President’s policy team fit into President Reagan’s policy team? Do they simply have a seat at the table or can they actually make substantive contributions? So all that was certainly a reality.

Craig’s selection as Chief of Staff was intended to help smooth that over. We haven’t gotten there yet, but toward the end of the Reagan administration moved on to President Reagan’s staff, as deputy counsel to the President. And again, that was viewed both by Craig and by President Bush as part of this continuing effort to integrate the staffs as much as possible, particularly as you led up to the election campaign. And it was clear that Vice President Bush was, in all likelihood, going to be the nominee for the Republican Party. So that was the effort. Did I respond to your question?

Riley

Yes, sure. Did you get the sense that there were lingering ideological suspicions by some of the Reagan people towards the Vice President? Or had he done such a good job of folding his operation into the White House at this point that people felt completely comfortable with what the Vice President was doing?

Brady

Yes, I’ve read those stories. Certainly with some individuals there were those suspicions, and you had some who were unsure whether President Reagan and Vice President Bush’s ideology was on all fours. I know the media loves to make a lot of hay out of such questions, but my view is, of course, there will always be some differences in ideology. President Bush was someone who had been in government a long, long time, and had well-formed opinions, and in some areas his strength of feeling of this issue or that issue might not be as great as someone else’s strength of feeling.

The priority was to keep all that, as much as possible, internal. Obviously, we weren’t entirely successful, which is the basis for your question. There’s plenty of media accounts saying that there were those tensions—But President Bush for his part, and this I can speak to personally, made every effort never to show any daylight between his position and President Reagan’s position. And he would frequently say, you know there are going to be these staff disputes. Years later I know there were conversations about his relationship with Secretary of State Baker and how it deteriorated and that sort of thing. But when President Bush spoke directly to that, he would say, Don’t worry about my relationship with Jim Baker. It’s firmly based and it’s long-standing. In sum, Vice President Bush would not countenance staff trying to drive wedges, particularly among his own staff. Now were there some of those disputes? Absolutely. But he personally did everything he could to minimize them.

Riley

One specific question relating to the drug initiative. Do you have any idea whether this is something that the Vice President had solicited as a part of his portfolio, or was this a decision that was made elsewhere in the administration, and sort of put on the Vice President’s plate?

Brady

Yes, that’s a good question, and no, I don’t know the answer to it. I’ll speculate to some degree, even though that’s dangerous, that there was more a consensus within the administration that something needed to be done, and the Vice President was part of the movement. If you go back to media accounts, you’ll see that the drug crisis was a was a big national issue. It wasn’t just south Florida, it was a big deal nationally.

And in the councils within the White House, of which Vice President Bush was a part, there was agreement that they needed to bring all the resources of the federal government to bear in a coordinated fashion. And there was a consensus view again that to compel all the Cabinet officers to do what was necessary, you needed to have someone over those Cabinet officers to be in charge. So in other words, I’m sure the attorney general, William French Smith, could have said, Well, I’ll take charge of that. Most of it is Justice-related, I’ll take charge. But then, if you want to bring DOD in, the Secretary of Defense doesn’t feel compelled to be all that cooperative, or the Secretary of State, or the Secretary of the Treasury or its agencies. So I think there really was a meeting of the minds that the Vice President’s active engagement was the way to go. Vice President Bush embraced the responsibility and, again, having the Chief of Staff that he did, he was very well positioned to do the military piece, which was the major addition to the war on drugs. So the Vice President was very well positioned to make a difference and I think he made a difference almost immediately. And he was very, very conscientious about his responsibility in this important role.

It also ties in, I think, to your earlier question, too, about initiatives—that he would increasingly be out there and that was certainly one of them. He used to kid—For a while, if you remember, the Soviet leaders were dying one by one. That was one of the sort of responsibilities which he was very good at.

Riley

Knocking off Soviet leaders, or—

Brady

No, going to their funerals. His joke was: You die, I fly.

McCall

He said it on camera.

Brady

However, that’s not how he viewed himself—even though he was absolutely excellent at it because he knew all the other world leaders from his long time in public service including in the United Nations and the CIA, and all the other positions he held. He was the ideal person for that responsibility. But he knew that wasn’t going to get him elected as President of the United States.

Young

Were there other things in the Vice President’s portfolio that were special, if you had anything to do with them? Regulatory matters? Competitiveness, that sort of thing?

Brady

Yes, and I’m sure Boyden’s talked to you about that, so I won’t dwell on that. But, yes, there were areas where, again, he was willing to utilize the unique position of the Vice President to accomplish substantial goals like regulating reform, and this is to President Reagan’s credit as well—that he was more than willing to commission the Vice President as opposed to permitting the vice presidency to be nothing more than a warm bucket of spit, or whatever it was that James Nance Garner said. And those were other areas where, as you said, regulatory relief, the Counsel on Competitiveness were a couple of these examples which were government-wide; where it took someone of the stature of the Vice President to be on the spaghetti chart above the Cabinet officers and be able to get their cooperation. And again, it’s a silly sounding thing, but to get the detailees, you need to be able to task those agencies to actually make a difference and do something positive.

Young

Then you went to join Reagan’s staff in the final days?

McCall

Can I just ask one question as a follow-up? Could you detect in those assignments that Reagan was giving the Vice President were where Vice President Bush’s own interests lay in these policy issues and things? Not an agenda necessarily—an emphasis maybe?

Brady

You mean beyond the drug war?

McCall

Well, beyond what—Well, there’s what’s assigned to you and there’s what you develop an interest in, in terms of policy, one’s own agenda, because this is the point where he’s beginning to think in terms of his own possibilities. Could you detect what might be emerging in terms of his own priorities, policies?

Brady

One was the drug war—and I keep using that term—the effort to get our arms around the drug problem we have in this country, and do it in a comprehensive fashion. He did become very involved, and I think he was instinctively very engaged in the undertaking because of his long time in government. He believed himself that he was uniquely suited to being able to make a difference—beyond just his title of Vice President, but also his background and past experience enabled him to make that difference. And he’d always been interested in foreign policy, and DOD was something he had a particular interest in, as well as intelligence. And the coordination of all that engaged him very much. The meetings between the military, the Coast Guard, the Department of Transportation, etc., was very, very involved, and I think that also engaged him very much beyond it just being an assignment, if that’s your question.

On the regulatory side, he became personally interested as well, and I think the assignment dove-tailed with his interest in the sense that he believes in good government. Efficient, functioning, non-wasteful government is something he instinctively has a feeling for, again from his past assignments. So there’s a couple of priorities I would mention. As to the Competitiveness Council I’ll defer to Boyden. Boyden really oversaw that 100 percent.

Young

Also it’s just an observation. Another match between the regulatory portfolio and his interests, as they later appeared, was a strong commitment to the fullest use of private initiatives and market regulations—self regulation of the market, to reduce the overload. I think that would also put him very much on the same wavelength as President Reagan, getting the government off of people’s backs.

Brady

And that was one that wasn’t just rhetoric. You’re suggesting that it was not and it was not. He took great pride in it and used to say it on the stump that half of his career was the private sector and half the government sector. And he would use that to contrast himself against candidate Clinton who, but for a one-year stint at the University of Arkansas, had always been in government in one way or another. But he’s very proud of that fact, and he was a big believer that to really be effective in government, you should have met a payroll in your life. And that’s why the private initiatives with him were very, very important.

Young

Can we move to—briefly perhaps, but maybe not, maybe there’s a lot here, and that’s up to you—to deputy counsel and your—

Brady

Right. The counsel to the President in Reagan’s second term, was an A.B. Culvahouse, who I did not know well. But his deputy was Jay Stevens. And Jay Stevens and I had been friends at the Department of Justice before I moved on to the Vice President’s staff. When Jay was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, A.B. Culvahouse asked for suggestions from Jay and some others who they would recommend to take his place. I was one of the people that Jay mentioned to A.B. And A.B. and I met, and I think A.B. saw the value in integrating the staffs, particularly as you’re getting close to the critical election period. And so I became deputy counsel to President Reagan. And I knew some of the Howard Baker team so it was a comfortable fit all around.

I’ll note that I talked to Craig Fuller as Chief of Staff prior to talking to A.B., who said of course you should talk to them and look at that possibility. When the position was offered to me, Craig said, Oh, you better talk to the Vice President. So I remember riding in his limousine up to the Hill; President Bush was going up to some meetings in his Senate office and I told him about the offer. And I said, I’ve got to be straight with you, Mr. Vice President. My wife doesn’t want me to do it. She wants me to stay with you and on your staff, and I’d have a real commitment to you and your family. As you know, I’m sure from all your interviews, there’s a great loyalty there and it runs in both directions. And so, I’m not committed to doing this at all.

And he said, Well, I absolutely think you should do it. You should always take a position like that. It’s in your legal expertise and quite frankly, Phil, I think it’s good for me. It helps to have someone who understands my perspective and my thinking, and you certainly have been loyal to President Reagan, as I’m loyal to President Reagan. But also you’ll bring into discussions around the table the perspective you’ve gained from your time in my office. It’s one of those conversations which I treasure because it was very honest and it was just the two of us talking in the back of the limousine.

And the conversation was something I try to incorporate into my life. So when there are people who work for me and who are presented with opportunities to do something else and even though it creates a hole in my staff, I just say, Yes, go do it. I’ve always taken the same approach that Vice President Bush took at that time: that you always encourage people to take the opportunities as they present themselves.

Young

At this time, Ed Meese was already Attorney General, and had been for a while.

Brady

In fact, as a side light, I was the head of legislative affairs at Justice when he became Attorney General, and I handled his confirmation. That’s another whole conversation.

Young

Okay. Maybe we need to talk about it.

Brady

It was a one-year process. It was a long confirmation

Young

Yes, well, I’m torn.

Brady

No, no. I’ll have selective repression on that one. Anyway, so yes, Ed Meese had been attorney general. He had had a lengthy confirmation battle which, as you know, was delayed for a period of time while an independent counsel looked into some issues that had come up on his bookkeeping.

Young

I’ve got to let you know we’re going to be doing some Reagan oral history. On a non-snowy day we will get together again.

Brady

It better be in the summer.

Young

But then as you worked in—What were you involved in as deputy? That was a pretty active time in the Reagan White House, wasn’t it? On the legal side?

Brady

It was, and you’ve seen a little bit of things that happened in the counsel’s office at the end of an administration in recent news accounts.

Young

Yes.

Brady

And I’m not stating this to be overly partisan, but one of the big items towards the end of an administration is use of pardon power and act of clemency, and it was something we took very seriously. This was a time-consuming thing; we ran everything through the pardon attorney’s office, and there was an awful lot of back and forth on that and administrating the Presidential Records Act and what you do with all the Presidential materials. You have the post-employment restrictions that were relatively new, and briefing people on those. And there are appointments still being made and the deputy counsel traditionally is the one who does the initial clearances working with the FBI, working with the Office of Government Ethics to process and vett those appointments.

And then returning to our topic here, one of the other functions that I tried to assist on working with counsel to the President and others, was: what is it that President Reagan, as President, can appropriately do in support of his Vice President, who is now a candidate for the President of the United States? And at what point do President Reagan’s actions cross that unknown line and become political, thereby needing his entourage and everything to be paid for by the campaign? And this was and is not well charted ground.

I personally was pulled in as well on issues where I had some background. The war on drugs was something that continued to be a big issue. I remember one Saturday morning on a crash project drafting a radio address for President Reagan on the drug problem and the comprehensive drug strategy that President Reagan was proposing. So those are the sort of things will happen on an ad hoc basis.

Young

When you were doing these things in the Reagan White House, I presume you maintained your contact, your relationship with Craig Fuller in the office, particularly because of the things you were working on. You mentioned [player?]. What can be done that is supportive of the Vice President? Do you have any observations to make for the historical record on the kind of support or the level of support that was coming from Reagan people for the Vice President’s candidacy? The reason I’m inviting you to say something about this, if you know anything about it, is there has been some—there was some word in the press that President Reagan was cool toward the Vice President in a political sense or a personal sense. So anything you wish to say about that would be appropriate.

Brady

Sure, and I don’t pretend to be a close intimate of President Reagan. And I don’t pretend to have been involved in Oval Office deliberations where this sort of an atmosphere might have existed. My only personal observation was what I stated earlier: that President Reagan wanted to do absolutely everything he could to support President Bush, and that he wasn’t just personally fond of George Bush, but he also politically wanted to see George Bush succeed. If you think about it, I think it’s obvious that that would be the case, just as President Clinton was anxious to see his Vice President get elected, in part, because that extends his administration in a way that doesn’t violate the constitution in a sense. It validates his previous terms. Even if there wasn’t a personal affection there, you want to see your Vice President succeed.

Beyond that, that in President Reagan’s and President Bush’s case there was a personal affection. Now, were they necessarily on all fours on every issue in terms of strength of feeling? Probably not. And were there people within the Reagan staff who felt more strongly that that was not the case, they weren’t as firmly behind President Bush? Absolutely. There were people in my immediate circle, particularly Howard Baker, and Baker people who were all firmly behind Bush. He was going to be the nominee.

Young

Later, President Reagan seemed to take a great deal of enjoyment on the campaign trail—

Brady

At the end—

Young

And I’m wondering if that was among the items of what the outgoing President can do to help the prospective successor?

Brady

This I can personally speak to. That’s why this is a good format, because it does stimulate the memory. I was probably the principal in deciding where a Reagan appearance went too far in a political direction and therefore had to be paid for by the campaign, which is not an insignificant matter. And where the President could legitimately, where President Reagan could legitimately talk about the successes of his administration, and give credit where credit was due to his Vice President for those things his Vice President had done. So where there were objective statements, with respect to the contributions his Vice President made, as contrasted with comments that were more rhetorical and partisan—that was a difficult line to draw.

But I was involved in that, and hasten to say I did it as fairly and as straightforwardly as I possibly could—not unfairly tilting it toward my previous employer, the Vice President, but trying to be as honest as I could. And again, the reason I would do that is not simply because I’m a lawyer and I respect those lines, even though it would be difficult to say where they are, but also if we didn’t call it right, President Reagan, and by extension President Bush, are subject to lots of criticism that would obscure whatever message they were trying to get out. So, I mean, there was a practical reason to try to plot those lines correctly. In any event, my personal reflection here, for the record, is one time getting a speech back from President Reagan complaining, Why aren’t there more Bush references in here? I want to say more about him. So—And that was kind of ironic coming to me.

Young

But you didn’t draft the speech, did you?

Brady

No, but I’m the one who would delete and do all that and say, No, we can’t go there, or we can’t go here. But it was a very specific example contrary to what some of you have read—media accounts about how there was this lukewarmness on the part of President Reagan. If you check the Reagan library you will presumably find this speech that has his lines on it saying, I want to say more about this, I want to do more. And he would oftentimes—and this I know just from scheduling meetings—be seeking to do more events out there to support the Vice President. He had a balancing act to do just from an expense point of view.

Young

Were you able to suggest ideas for speeches, or opportunities for doing a speech that would be of benefit to the Vice President? Or were you deciding which side of the line was this one falling?

Brady

That was my primary responsibility, but I was also involved in scheduling meetings where they would have discussions on that. And yes, I would, always fully disclosing that my contribution to this group was to simply say that I think from the Bush perspective, this would be viewed as more helpful than not. In other words, I was very conscious of my responsibility as deputy counsel to President Reagan. Because in part, I was brought on board because they wanted someone who could break into the deliberations with some sense of what the Vice President would view as most helpful, or not helpful, or most consistent with his priorities at the time. I had conversations with Craig Fuller, absolutely, and with others too, to sort that out. I always felt comfortable that I—that it was a very legitimate effort to bring what I could to the table.

Young

Next step—Or is any—

Riley

So you were—Operationally you were vetting speeches throughout the course of the campaign?

Brady

Vetting President Reagan’s speeches as President. I’m on Reagan’s staff.

Riley

That’s what I meant, vetting the President. I guess I’m trying to get a roster of the kinds of activities that you routinely would have been involved in, in serving this role of line-drawing—one being speechmaking, the other being events. I can’t think of any other kinds of things that might as a matter of routine fall on your desk.

Brady

You mean that would involve Vice President Bush?

Riley

Exactly.

Brady

There would be the odd thing, but I can’t think of anything offhand. So those are the two more consistent things where you have this issue arise. And events were more in the context of the White House. You have groups to make decisions on scheduling, bringing staff together from each office to talk about this might make sense, that might make sense, might not make sense. And I think one of the things it’s fair to say is in some of the appointments towards the end of the Reagan administration, there was a greater interest in, Is this someone who Vice President Bush would be comfortable with if he ultimately—were he elected President? And this person is going into a position where it’s a term appointment, therefore they’re going to carry over to the Bush years. So they had greater sensitivity to that.

Riley

So you would get that kind of information from people—

Brady

Either I’d know it, or I’d talk—participate in discussions on . . ..

Riley

Okay. And you would coordinate that with people on the Vice President’s staff—the campaign staff?

Brady

Not the campaign. I didn’t have any contact with the campaign staff. That was a fairly rigid line. And there’s all those legal issues—I was consulted about things, but I was not involved in the campaign. I’ll tell one story that may be of interest. I wasn’t involved in the ’88 Bush campaign, obviously, I was deputy counsel to President Reagan at the time. But I was asked to visit with George W. Bush, at one point during 1988, who was at that time kind of a consigliore for the Bush campaign—he had a wide-ranging portfolio, as you probably read. And I went over to the campaign headquarters, basically to talk with him because he wanted to see whether or not it made sense for me to take over the public liaison role in the campaign—tying way back to the public liaison question you’d asked me when I was on the Vice President’s staff. I had done some of that when I worked for Craig Fuller on Vice President Bush’s staff. And we talked about it. And again, I look back on that, interestingly, given the current situation. And we agreed, mutually, that the sort of things I was doing—working for President Reagan—were as helpful as anything—being able to bring the Bush perspective to the internal deliberations in the White House, which was probably as useful a thing as possible for his father. And that’s the way it went. Then again, in light of current events—

Young

So you didn’t do public liaison?

Brady

No, I didn’t move to the campaign. I stayed in the counsel’s office through January 20th of 1989. I guess the other interesting thing here is that on January 20th, 1989, the only people left in the West Wing were Marlin Fitzwater and Phil Brady in the deputy counsel’s office is in the West Wing of the White House and obviously in the press secretary’s office, as we were going to continue into White House positions in the Bush administration. It’s always been a curious thing to me how completely the White House empties out other than the guards. It’s just happened again, and there are some news stories about this. There’s literally hardly anyone in the West Wing for a period of time. It’s like you could have tumbleweeds going down the corridors.

Young

It must be an eerie thing. Such a bustling place, and suddenly like a ghost town for a few.

Brady

Jumping ahead, it makes it sound like the Soviet Union a little bit, the old Soviet Union. At the assistant to the President level, you have a phone in your home that’s a direct White House phone, and you pick up the receiver and it says, White House operator. The communications system is fantastic—too good as a matter of fact. You couldn’t escape it. But at 12:01, January 20th four years later, my wife picked it up just to see what happens—it’s dead. That’s how efficient the operations are. So at that moment, you realized you are no longer—I was not yet formally signed on to stay at the White House, between Reagan and Bush.

Young

Do you want to take a five minute break?

[BREAK]
Young

Shall we move to transportation? Or are there things between deputy counsel and the next leg of your service?

Brady

There are. Are you really interested in that? I don’t know if that’s—I mentioned that Marlin and I were the only two in the West Wing at the end of the Reagan administration and the advent of President Bush. And someone who you should also talk to is David Bates.

Young

We have.

Brady

You have? Good, because David was asked then to be the Cabinet Secretary to President Bush. And David asked me to stay on as director of Cabinet affairs at the beginning of the Bush administration to help be a kind of bridge—be one of the bridges between the Reagan administration and the Bush administration, particularly because of my unique situation that I’d previously been on Vice President Bush’s staff. And he did so with the understanding that I was interested in taking on a general counselship in one of the agencies. But in that period between nomination and confirmation, it’s a period of three months or four months or something, he asked if I would be the director of Cabinet affairs, which I did. And I worked in that capacity for about three or four months while awaiting nomination and confirmation to be the general counsel in the Department of Transportation.

And it was a fascinating period as you can imagine, because a new administration was coming in—I was just talking about how you begin in the White House recently—I had lunch the other day with Andy Card, who is now the Chief of Staff to President Bush 43, and it smells of fresh paint. Well, similarly, the transition between Reagan and Bush: you walk in—there’s nothing anywhere, and it smells of fresh paint. And all the paintings are down, new paintings are going up; all the jumbo photographs are down, new jumbo photographs are going up. So it’s an incredibly heady experience. Being there the first three or four months of the Bush administration was a—

Young

I’d like to hear.

Brady

—a memorable experience with what we did in Cabinet affairs, just to speak to what I can speak to personally, is somewhat relevant to what is going on today. President Bush was nominating members of his Cabinet. They were going through crash confirmation hearings, and then were being sworn in as Cabinet officials. And our job in Cabinet affairs was to introduce them to the White House, and vice-versa. So one thing we did do that I don’t think they’re doing today—I think it would be a good idea if they were—we’d set up a meeting very early on with the either nominated, or recently confirmed, Cabinet official or agency head in the White House for a round table discussion with heads of each of the White House offices.

So that they could meet Dave Demarest, the head of communications, then they know how they are going to interact with that individual. They talked to Fred McClure at legislative affairs and he says, Here’s what my office can do for you, can’t do for you. They’d meet the staff secretary, who’d say, Here’s how you send things into the White House, or Here’s how we do staffing, so we can tell us if there’s sensitivity here or sensitivity there. So it provided a one-shot opportunity for each Cabinet official to meet the heads of all the various offices, and for the heads of various offices to meet that Cabinet official, and for them to know what the expectations were back and forth.

Young

Would that include OMB [Office of Management and Budget]?

Brady

It included OMB. Normally the Deputy Director of OMB would come to the meetings. I convened those meetings, and that was a wonderful experience for me. So at the very beginning of the administration, I thought it was a timely initiative for both the White House and for the Cabinet official. Then, just on a personal level, obviously it was fascinating to meet with each one of the Cabinet officials—spend an hour and a half, two hours with them, and to do it all in one fell swoop. And we developed a Cabinet report format to get to the President a very short blurb of what’s going on throughout his government. We started on a weekly basis. We kicked that off right at the very beginning of the administration. Each Cabinet official would be told that that’s what you need to be able to do.

I remember one of the first Cabinet meetings I attended—although it wasn’t officially yet a Cabinet it participated in what we put together on January 19th. It was the day before President Bush became President Bush, and we held the meeting at the Blair House across the street because President Bush wasn’t President Bush yet and he couldn’t use the Cabinet room. But we brought in media. It was the first assemblage of the full Bush Cabinet and it got some attention because of that. So it was a very interesting period, and I think it was a rather smooth launch.

Young

Did they all know each other, or were introductions needed?

Brady

That’s a good question. Many of them were old hands, but others were not. Jim Baker obviously was pretty much an old hand, but John Sununu was not. And the Secretary of Education was [Lauro] Cavazos who had been appointed at the end of the Reagan administration, and he stayed on into the Bush administration. Also, Manny [Manuel] Lujan was Secretary of the Interior at the end of the Reagan administration, and he stayed on into the Bush administration.

The other substantive thing that we did at the very beginning, which causes me to be particularly interested in learning to what they’re doing now with the Bush administration 43, is we set up Cabinet councils to do the policy development for the administration. President Bush was very committed to in fact using his Cabinet, and he had great respect for the men and women he had appointed to the Cabinet offices. And he intended to make use of it. And he said, I want you to—and not simply rhetoric—I want you, Phil, you, David Bates, to set up a good Cabinet council system, whereby some of the things we talked about during the campaign, that we committed to looking at or doing, are brought before the relevant Cabinet council; they make the necessary decisions, determinations and turn it into policy or legislation if that’s what’s required. So all that happened in a rush in the first couple of months. What we’re seeing now is interesting, because as we spoke during our break, it’s even more of a rush. Because of the much shorter transition time, those things that might have happened during that period, haven’t happened and so now it’s having to happen at a much more accelerated pace.

Young

There were two main Cabinet councils?

Brady

Domestic and Foreign.

Young

And [Richard] Thornburgh was head of the . . ..

Brady

Domestic. And then we had individuals who served as staff secretaries to each of them. I don’t remember who they are. One of them, who worked directly for me is, interestingly, he was just named yesterday, or I guess last week, is going to be the deputy Secretary of Transportation, Michael Jackson. A very good guy. He worked for me at that time in the Cabinet affairs office. There was a Lehman Lee who had the foreign affairs-side Cabinet Council. And I can’t remember who had the domestic. Perhaps you know.

Young

No, I don’t. I should, but I don’t.

Brady

I know, I should too. He worked for me.

Young

Maybe Bates talked about him—

Brady

Yes, I’m sure he did about the tapes. So I’m sure you’ve got all that information.

Young

—Michael Jackson when I was in—

Brady

Those were the main functions, to put together—to flesh out the Cabinet council concept, and to set up briefing schedules for the Cabinet secretaries, and then to set up an effective reporting mechanism.

Young

We’ve actually seen at the Bush Library some samples of those reports.

Brady

Michael Jackson worked particularly hard on those.

Young

Are we ready for Transportation? We’ve got a ways to go. I’m watching the snow, we’ll check again on the break.

Brady

Transportation . . .

Young

General counsel.

Brady

Right—It was a personal matter. It was my desire to stay in the Bush administration but in a legal capacity, and so a logical step for me to take, which was, I believe, also supportive of President Bush, was to serve as a general counsel in one of the agencies. And the agency that I was most interested in was the Department of Transportation. I did not know Sam Skinner previously. I had not met him during the campaign or otherwise, and I don’t frankly recall how my name got in the picture. But Sam effectively said—Perhaps you know the story, Sam likes to tell it—is that one night, my wife and I were at home. And we had just had a newborn baby and my wife was up with the baby, and I was asleep. And it was 11 or 12:00 at night and she got a call, and the person on the other end of the line said, Hello, my name is Gene Croissant, that’s croissant like the roll.

And she’s tired and the baby is howling and that sort of thing, and she said, Well, Gene Croissant, croissant like the roll, what are you doing calling at this hour of the night? He says, Oh, well, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I’m actually in California, and I forgot about the time change, or whatever he said, but I’m calling on behalf of Secretary Skinner. And then my wife said, Oh, well in that case. She knew I had an interest in the position. So she got more pleasant with Gene Croissant like the roll. And Gene says, Well, Sam’s going to be back there tomorrow morning, or the next morning or something, and he wanted to see if Phil could have breakfast with him. And she said, Well, I think he can. So she spoke for me and the next morning advised me that I was having breakfast with Secretary designate. And we had breakfast and we became friendly. And later on, became very friendly. And we talked about the position and it fit my interests very much.

I don’t know why but perhaps as a Californian I had a particular interest in transportation, and the problems related to it. I have a pilot’s license—there’s a number of different reasons why it tied in. And I wanted to do something that there was going to be some action in, and there was going to be action in the transportation area. So.

Young

But your name was already on . . ..

Brady

I assume he was—I don’t know how—I don’t recall.

Young

He didn’t select you. He was meeting you and getting acquainted.

Brady

Right.

Young

But you already knew that you were being put up for the post? Or had that—

Brady

That’s what I don’t recall. That’s an interesting thing. I assume—I believe he told me that President Bush said something to him. I don’t know that as a fact.

Young

Okay.

Masoud

Gene Croissant’s name comes up later at—

Brady

We’ll get there. We’ll get there.

Masoud

But the point is, what was his job when Skinner was coming into Transportation? I don’t think he was employed at the Department of Transportation.

Brady

No. No, not at all. He’s a confidant of Sam’s and he’s someone that Sam had worked with at one point. I’m going to say at IBM, but don’t hold me to that. At some point in their past, they had worked together. Sam had great respect for his organizational abilities and kind of management consulting abilities, etc. And I will speak to that when we get to the part that you’d like me speak to that about. Because I’m unique on that one—because I already knew Sam Skinner quite well from my time in the White House at the beginning of the bush administration.

Young

Well, we certainly must get to that.

Brady

Snow notwithstanding. I can see you guys salivating over there.

Young

No. If we’re salivating, it’s only because future generations will, too.

Brady

No they won’t. They’ll say, What is this?

Masoud

The only reason that I found it interesting is because when people talk about that episode, they talk about it as if he dialed up some random management consultant and let the wrong person in. Whereas what we revealed is there was a long relationship there.

Brady

Yes, there was. Absolutely.

Young

Now back to general counsel.

Riley

Let me ask a transition question. I don’t know whether this takes us too far afield, but you indicated that your initial connection with Bush was through Craig Fuller. What happens to Fuller during this period of time? He’s sort of conspicuous by his absence.

Brady

I guess the first thing to note, as you probably have on the record, is that Craig Fuller was responsible for the transition team. He was appointed to be the head of the transition between the Bush election effort and the Bush-as-President effort. He might have done that with someone else?

Masoud

Teeter. Bob Teeter.

Brady

So he was co-chair with Bob Teeter, thank you. He worked hard at that and well at that, and there’s lots of speculation that he would’ve liked to have been Chief of Staff to President Bush. And I’m sure he would’ve, and he would have taken that position and maybe a position or two others that he might have taken. But by and large, he had some tuggings himself to go out into the private sector. He was as well-positioned as you possibly could be for going into the private sector—I don’t mean to suggest that he wouldn’t have taken Chief of Staff, as I believe he would have, and there were perhaps some other positions that he might have taken as well.

In terms of picking Governor Sununu, I think I said in an article and in a talk I gave previously at the Miller Center that it made sense for what President Bush wanted at the time. He, President Bush, had always taken the view that people should always have had to meet a payroll before they were in public office, and he wanted people who worked for him in public office to have had to run for elected office at some point in their lives. So he wanted people that understood the private sector and actually having been the person up front. Answering the questions and being responsible for everything they said, etc. So he had enormous regard for governors, because they are chief executives in their states. They are, and particularly in the Republican Party at that time, were considered the innovators—laboratory-of-democracy type thing.

In Sununu’s particular case, Governor Sununu had shown candidate Bush great organizational skill when candidate Bush had come to New Hampshire after a disappointing finish in Iowa, and needed to turn his campaign around. And Governor Sununu had been very effective in doing that. And then candidate Bush carried New Hampshire and went on to the presidency. So he felt a loyalty and a respect for Governor Sununu. And I think he also wanted someone who’d come in—Governor Sununu—who would make decisions quickly, firmly, and he thought that’s particularly necessary at the beginning of the administration. And I think he also wanted some fresh infusion of blood into the whole operation. So Craig was not offered the position that he probably would have liked, but Craig also had some interests on his own part, in the private sector.

Riley

One quick follow-up on that. Because you knew him, I suppose, fairly well, was it your perception that there were some things that were brought to the President that he missed not having in the early stages of the administration? People develop relationships and obviously Sununu brought some things to the table in terms of his personal experience that Fuller didn’t have . . ..

Young

And vice-versa.

Riley

And vice-versa. Was their perception that—

Brady

Craig Fuller, as you’ve probably heard from others, was considered notorious for not returning phone calls and for not sufficiently responding to long time Bushies. And allegations were made that he was really more of a Reagan guy from California who came and worked very hard for Vice President Bush, both in the White House and then through the transition. But some of the people who were the long-time Bush friends and family and supporters from Texas never embraced him as their own. I think it would be a fair statement.

Your first question was were there some things that Craig Fuller could have brought to President Bush that John Sununu was not able to. Certainly. John Sununu came to Washington and he’d been a Governor—four-term Governor in his state—but he had almost zero Washington experience. He had been, I think, president of the Governor’s Association, so he had some broader than New Hampshire exposure. But he, Governor Sununu, took care of that problem in a way that gets interesting, given current events, in that he asked Andy Card to be his deputy Chief of Staff. And Andy Card, like Craig Fuller or someone else who had been in the White House for a long, long time, had the ideas on how the White House could be structured quickly, and he had read the same articles on alternatives and what might work, what might not work, etc. Particularly interesting, again, given the fact Andy’s now Chief of Staff in the White House. So Andy was able to cover that area where Governor Sununu still had some learning to do. So I think that wasn’t as glaring a problem as it might otherwise have been. That responsibility . . ..

Riley

Sure. Absolutely.

Masoud

I was just going to say, to comment briefly, that the choice of Sununu over Fuller sort of contradicts the opinion that most have of Bush: that this was a man who was so loyal to subordinates that he would often countenance incompetence and leave people in places that they really shouldn’t have been, because he was so loyal to them. But this story that you’re telling us of choosing Sununu over Fuller, because Sununu brought things to the table, sort of gives the lie to that story.

Brady

Yes. And I guess I’m putting it in a context. Now as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, it was different than transition head or Chief of Staff to the Vice President, and he wanted a different combination of factors. And that isn’t to say that he didn’t want Craig Fuller to do things. I think he did. In fact, I know he did. And so it was—The loyalty factor was still very much there, but the particular job in mind—He also had a great loyalty to Sununu for what he had done for him in New Hampshire. So there were other considerations. And Craig, as I say, had some inclination himself that he wanted to do something else.

Young

And it was an administration, after all, which, including the President himself, had an awful lot of Washington experience and government experience.

Brady

Yes, and that kind of answers your question, too. Andy Card is part of that, because Andy was able to say to John Sununu, On this we have to make a decision—here are your major alternatives, here’s other stuff. But as you so correctly point out, the President had been Vice President for eight years.

Young

Well, he’d had a long experience before that, too.

Brady

And a long experience before that. In fact, he used to frustrate us to no end at times in the White House. I’m jumping ahead, but he would call us and ask our opinion on some thing or other. And many times, he’d already called people out in the bureaucracy, and he already had opinions from people he’d known from his past life. So you’d say, blah blah and he’d say, Well, so and so thinks that. Or he’d call you and ask you to find out a piece of information, and you’d dutifully call the agency to get the requested information—for example, Health and Human Services to get the information—and by the time you’d called him back, he’d already have called somebody he knew at HHS and have gotten the answers. You call back Sununu and he’d say, I already got it, thanks. So when he gave me an assignment—you probably know this—you did it immediately, because if you didn’t, he’d do it. Going to your point, he just had a tremendous network.

Young

I’m glad to have that testimony on record, because there’s lots of similar testimony.

Brady

It’s just his personality—If you don’t mind another story. A woman who worked for me, who I talked to yesterday on the phone, is Shirley Green and she headed up the correspondence unit, which is not a small operation. It’s a hundred paid staff, maybe two, three hundred volunteers. She’s now in Texas. She was head of correspondence for Governor Bush—now President Bush. Anyway, I talked to her about something yesterday. But she had had, toward the end of the Bush I administration, cancer surgery. Just after she had the cancer surgery, I happened to be the traveling Chief of Staff with President Bush going down to Florida at the time of Hurricane Andrew. This was after Jim Baker had come in as Chief of Staff and positions were still being sorted out. I got on the helicopter with President Bush and we were just about to leave to fly to Andrews to get on a plane to go down to do a Hurricane Andrew tour, and the President asked me, How is Shirley Green doing, has she had that surgery? How’s she doing? I said, Well sir, it was my understanding that you really weren’t allowed to call her for twenty-four hours after the surgery and I was going to call her after I got back. He says, Well, I just spoke to her and she’s doing great. Does that sound familiar to you? That’s absolutely a true story, and I just hung my head and said, Sir, I feel terrible and I’m happy to hear she feels well. I’ll certainly send flowers.

Young

That’s a good story. So good I forgot where we were.

Riley

I have one very quick follow up and then we’re going to go back to Transportation to see if there’s anything else. Were you, given your previous experience, at all consulted during this three- or four-month window of time, about establishing relationships between the Vice President’s office and the rest of the White House? Were there any consultations—

Brady

This is a real brief question: no. I mean, a brief answer, too: no.

Young

You mean with Vice President Quayle?

Brady

No. Because again, nobody was a better authority on that than the person who had been there for eight years as Vice President, so he didn’t need any consultation on things like that. And the people in the first group, actually the group that Vice President Quayle brought in, were also fairly savvy Washington types—Bill Kristol was the Chief of Staff, etc.

Riley

Okay. Transportation.

Young

Transportation. After you left off with the breakfast meeting with Skinner, so you’re now in the Department of Transportation. Your confirmation was—

Brady

The confirmation hearing—I’ll tell you one story—I don’t know, I think I may be going too far with these stories—but it’s perhaps an interesting, kind of Washington story. I, at one point in my checkered career, headed up legislative affairs at the Justice Department. And as we talked earlier, one of my charges was the Meese confirmation, the Brad Reynolds confirmation, Judge Sworkin confirmation, etc.—these were all fairly controversial at the time.

Young

We’ll be back to those.

Brady

But my point is that I felt I had rather extensive legislative experience, and that I knew the Hill quite well—I had even worked on the Hill at one time. So I’m up for confirmation at Transportation to be the general counsel. And the only kind of issue we were concerned about at the time, that might hold up some of the confirmations, didn’t really relate directly to me. But the Senate often uses confirmation hearings to make points they want to make. The Exxon Valdez situation had just occurred, and Senator Stevens of Alaska wanted the Department of Transportation to be doing more—lots more. My confirmation hearing came up in that context, and Senator Pete Wilson, who I actually knew, was going to do my introduction to the committee. In fact, as part of his introduction, he said, Normally, Senators sit here and say that so-and-so is from my home state and I understand this person to be of good moral character. In this case, I actually do know Phil Brady. And the committee laughed, because it’s so infrequent that they truly know the people that they’re introducing.

But the chair of the hearing was a Senator from Nebraska, Senator [J. James] Exon. And just prior to my going up to make my statement, one of the legislative affairs staff from Transportation came up to me and whispered in my ear and said, By the way, I want to tell you how to address the chairman of the committee. And it’s—Senator Exon, not Exxon. Because of Exxon Valdez this was critical advice as it would have highlighted all the committee’s concerns about whether DOT was doing enough to respond to the oil spill. However, when he first started to approach me, I kind of brushed him off, thinking, Well, I know how to handle this affair. I’ve headed up legislative affairs before, I know how to testify, I don’t need your help. In truth, I thought it was Exxon and I would have sat there and said, Senator Exxon, stimulating the whole thing; it would have been a huge mistake. So after that, I had a lot more respect for listening to people and getting their advice.

He was also kind of cute, because, he, Senator Exon of Nebraska and reminded the audience that it’s Big Red there. And my son was in the audience with my wife, and my other children, and one son had on a very red jacket. I hadn’t planned it that way but Senator Exon started the hearing, Mr. Brady, we’re delighted to have you here. Senator Wilson introduced you. And that’s a great compliment to you that he’s here, but I’m most pleased to see that son in that red jacket. He says, That bodes well for you. I could have then blown it by saying, Well, Senator Exxon . . ..

Young

I think that since this is a phonetic problem, we better just say for the tape that there are two Exxons in this dialogue—one has two xs and the other has only one. And the Senator is only one x.

Brady

He’s only one x. But anyway, the confirmation hearing began as I described, and one of the big issues when I came on board was the Exxon Valdez. There were a lot of legal issues attendant to that. Drug testing was another very hot issue at the Department of Transportation at that time. Jim Burnley, as the previous Secretary of Transportation, had put in place the basic parameters of drug testing for the DOT-regulated industries, and this included pre-employment testing, periodic testing, and random testing for the rail industry, the trucking industry, the maritime industry, etc. The implementation regulations were just being raised, and needed to be stamped by the new Secretary and reviewed by the department. And then they were all immediately subject to serious litigation. A couple of them went to the Supreme Court. So that was a big preoccupation from the very beginning.

Young

There were already rules published in the federal register, or new?

Brady

But they still needed a lot of fleshing out. And they also needed to be tested in the courts, and that became a big responsibility for me right off the bat. And I worked with the Department of Justice and an individual named Ken Starr, who was Solicitor General at the time. Another story comes to mind involving Ken Starr. While I was in the Department of Transportation, I argued a fifth circuit court of appeals case. I don’t know if any of you are from Texas, but it involved Love Field in Dallas and the constitutionality of the Love Field Amendment—the Jim Wright Amendment it was also called. This was a restriction on flights in and out of Love Field, that you could only fly directly to the four contiguous states, then you can catch another flight if you wanted to go beyond. Jim Wright, as a Congressman from Texas, had put this restriction in law to protect, the Dallas Fort Worth Airport—to protect the bond holders there, and to make that airport the preferred choice for travelers. And the constitutionality of the amendment was challenged.

And as was traditional, most general counsels would come in and argue one of the DOT cases themselves. But you had to get permission from the Department of Justice. I had known Ken Starr from our previous time together at the Department of Justice, so I approached him and said, I would like to argue this case, and he said, That’s great—it has everything in it but the kitchen sink. So I argued the case in Dallas before a three-judge federal panel. And one of the judges was very candid. He started the hearing by saying, You know what? I’m impacted by that amendment every day. I live in X-state and because of the amendment I can’t use Love Field, which is more convenient for me. It’s a horrible situation. So I had to start my argument saying, Now whether or not it’s good policy, the question before the court is whether or not it’s unconstitutional and we submit it’s not.

Young

Did you do a lot of litigation?

Brady

That’s the only case I argued myself, but I did an awful lot of regulatory writing and brief writing during my time at DOT.

Young

Did you win that?

Brady

Yes, it was constitutional. Obnoxious, but not unconstitutional.

Young

And what else did you do besides review rules, cases pending and . . . .

Brady

Rules was a large part of it because DOT is one of the very heaviest rule-making agencies in government, behind Agriculture and EPA [The Environmental Protection Agency], I believe. The number is high because of FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] rules that are constantly coming out, adjusting air space requirements. But, a lot of substantive rules come out, many in the aviation area. I remember one I worked on at length was aviation equal access issues. The National Federation for the Blind had sued to be able to sit in exit rows and anywhere else on an airplane, and many other organizations were also involved. We put in place a regulatory rule-making session on that issue and on other rule makings.

As part of the general counsel’s office, you had a rule-making or regulatory office. Also, you had a legislative office, so we were involved frequently in the drafting and the responding to questions on the legislative initiatives and testimony. Periodically, I testified. For example, they asked me to be the administration’s spokesperson in testimony on the Hill, not just for DOT, but for the government as a whole, on a proposal, a Congressional proposal, to arm Coast Guard aircraft so that they could interdict, and if necessary, shoot down suspected drug trafficking-aircraft. It tied into some previous experiences including the fact I have a pilot’s license. We testified that we understood the frustration we all feel in the interdiction world, but that it wasn’t feasible to arm Coast Guard aircraft for engineering reasons and lots of other reasons relating to the use of deadly force based on suspicions. And I was able to testify that as a private pilot who learned to fly in southern California, and may have inadvertently crossed the Mexican border a couple of times, that you really had to be careful with such proposals. It was a product of the frustration that was out there about the difficulties of interdicting. At that time, massive amounts of marijuana and cocaine were coming across the border.

Young

Would you say something about your experience as a participant, as an observer of Secretary Skinner and what the working relationship was, and then your observations on his priorities and management of this large department? The reason—That would be of interest anyway, but it’s particularly interesting because of your subsequent assignment.

Brady

To mention again, I did not know Sam Skinner prior to the Bush administration, but we did become very good friends—probably the closest in the department. The general counsel within the Department of Transportation is the number three official in the department so on occasion I was acting secretary or acting deputy secretary. So we worked particularly closely together. He was an interesting individual—not your traditional politician—in that he had been a career assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago. And then he became the U.S. attorney in Chicago. It’s very rare for a career prosecutor to work his or her way up to become the U.S. attorney. He did that, and was considered a very activist U.S. attorney and became friendly with Governor Thompson in that role and played a leading role in the Bush campaign in Illinois. And then ultimately he was appointed Secretary of Transportation.

When he came in, he had a little bit of that career-employee focus, given his history, having been a prosecutor working his way up to U.S. attorney. So he was very much a people’s Secretary, if you will. In the cafeteria, he’d walk around greeting people, he’d pop in on people in their offices, he’d meet frequently with career employees. He didn’t simply deal with his political staff. Shortly after his team was in place, he hosted a large DOT-wide auditorium session—a rah-rah session if you will—in which his team members all said something but when he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. He was just very engaging and very, very good. And I heard career employees that worked for me walking out and saying, Wow, that’s great. We’re enthused. They were very upbeat about him. And maybe, again, because of his hands-on background, he was a hands-on Secretary.

And he wanted to really look at the specifics of different proposals. And he had initiatives that he wanted to pursue. And he wasn’t afraid to talk to the media; he was comfortable doing it, and he was comfortable taking responsibility. All these things tie in. And his willingness to take responsibility is one of the reasons I think he was subsequently selected to be Chief of Staff to President Bush. The first thing was the Exxon Valdez matter. He flew up to Alaska many times; met with all the mayors, and the governor, and the press, and the interest groups. And he was very, very hands-on in responding to the crisis and promising lots and lots of resources, and we tried to deliver all those resources. And, I think, managed that crisis as well it could be managed. Then subsequently, there was the San Francisco earthquake issue. He flew out to San Francisco and, again, was very active, hands-on; met with angry citizens, and politicians, and the media. And, again, handled it well. And then there was Hurricane Hugo.

Young

That was on the—It was Charleston and North Carolina.

Brady

Right and that—He took that same technique to responding to that crisis. And in each case, the President designated him as kind of coordinator for the administration on those issues. And the press at one point dubbed him the Master of Disaster because of his leadership role in these various events.

Young

How did he get along with the career service in the department? Sometimes there’s a lot of tension between the political appointee and the careerist and it’s a very diverse department with a lot of . . ..

Brady

That’s what I meant to share, was that I thought he got along particularly well with the career service. Particularly given the fact that he was someone from the career service having been a career prosecutor and later became U.S. attorney, and he was very engaging and engaged.

Young

And the political appointees in the department? Likewise?

Brady

Similar.

Young

So there wasn’t any problem identified out of that experience and in the management of the diverse interests of the larger—

Brady

Yes, in the—Part of it is—It goes with the mission of the Department of Transportation. It’s not a particularly partisan mission, and the great proof of that is that President Bush 43 has just appointed Norm Manetta to be his Secretary of Transportation. A Democrat—who served as Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration. The mission of the Department of Transportation really cuts across party lines. There are going to be disputes and there are partisan disputes, but by and large, you’re pulling the same direction.

Young

Just—The choice—President Bush’s choice, Skinner, seems kind of an improbable background to appoint as Secretary of Transportation. And so from that point of view, you sort of look—Were there some problems with that? Because he didn’t have a background in the field that I know about. And it was a different—

Brady

You mean appointing him Secretary of Transportation?

Young

Yes. So—When you’re appointing somebody who is entirely outside the field to a big department with a degree of service, you always wonder how they get along.

Brady

That’s why when he first came in, the news magazines and media generally questioned, just as you are, Why is he, this gentleman, appointed? One, we never heard of him. Two, why is he appointed Secretary of Transportation? If anything, he has a legal background. And so there was some skepticism about him. But then, as I say, he immediately got his arms around the first challenge that came his way, and he handled it quite well. And toward the end of the first year of the Bush administration, I think he was ranked at the very top of the Cabinet in those various news media accounts that are out there and do those sort of rankings.

Young

There was a personal relationship with President Bush, wasn’t there? Did Bush know him from earlier?

Brady

Yes, he knew him, but previously in the context of one of Governor Thompson’s confidants who were helping Vice President Bush in the state of Illinois.

Young

So he had no long-standing personal relationship.

Brady

That’s again why the media speculated how did this happen.

Young

Are we ready to go to the White House now?

Brady

I could talk for a second about President Bush appointing Sam Skinner as Chief of Staff, if that ties in here.

Young

Sure.

Brady

I think there’s some continuity to that, and I’ve spoken on this before. But just for this record, I’ll point out that at the time when Governor Sununu was becoming an issue in the press, and it didn’t look like that was going to be able to be sustained, and that there was going to have to be a change, President Bush looked around and Sam Skinner came to the fore because he answered a lot of the problems that it was perceived that Sununu had. It was perceived that Sununu didn’t get along that well with other members of the Cabinet. It was perceived that John Sununu had bad relations with the press. It was perceived that John Sununu had bad relations with the Congress—that he could be dismissive sometimes of members of Congress. And it was thought that he was sometimes abrasive and non-inclusive with respect to the White House staff. So that’s four big constituencies there.

My own belief, and I’ve not talked about this with President Bush—my own conviction is that that is really what motivated him to select Sam Skinner as his Chief of Staff. Sam Skinner was perceived to have strengths in each of those areas. He got along well with other members of the Cabinet. He had very good relations on the Hill. He had worked well with the media—the various disasters I described. And he was viewed as an inclusive guy who pops in people’s offices and had good relations with the DOT staff. And it was thought he had very good relations with the White House staff.

So it was a situation where John Sununu was becoming less viable as Chief of Staff, and the President looking around and finding someone who he thought could be stronger in all those important areas.

Masoud

So it’s not that he lobbied Bush’s daughter. You saw that story?

Brady

I have seen it, that’s one of the ones I’m sure—

Masoud

Yes.

Brady

My wife and I were actually out to dinner with Sam and Honey, Sam’s wife, at a Washington country club when he got the call. He certainly was someone who was very interested in the position, should the position become available. And he certainly didn’t hide that. As to Doro Bush, her son and my son go to school together in high school in Washington, and Sam and Honey were certainly friendly with Doro and Bobby—Bobby Koch is Doro’s husband. But he didn’t lobby her to lobby her father. He just simply was someone who had lots of contacts and certainly made use of them. And he certainly had an interest in the position if it were to become available. But there were other people in that same position. I really think it was more of an objective call by President Bush. I think President Bush was pretty calculating when it came to picking people.

Young

Lobby or not, his availability was known.

Brady

Oh, sure, you know, absolutely, I’m not hiding that at all. But the idea that President Bush would do something simply because someone’s friends with his daughter doesn’t work.

Young

There was no—There was pull toward another position, that position in the White House, but there was no push out from the Department of Transportation—

Brady

From DOT. Oh, no, no not to my knowledge.

Young

So he felt he’d done all he could do then.

Brady

Oh no, it was a wonderful challenge and it was a wonderful opportunity for him. I think it was—And I do believe that he came in fully confident that he could make a very serious difference and be very helpful. Is this where we talk about Gene Croissant?

Young

What’s that? I didn’t hear you.

Brady

Is this where we talk about Gene Croissant?

Masoud

I don’t think so yet.

Young

Not quite yet. And you stayed in the Department of Transportation when Andy Card came over.

Brady

I did not.

Masoud

No. You left before Skinner left.

Brady

Right.

Masoud

Right. So let’s talk about that—

Brady

And that’s interesting actually. I’m happy to have this on the record, because everyone makes that assumption: that I came over with Sam Skinner. And actually, given my prior association with the Vice President, on his staff, and the President at the beginning of the Bush administration . . ..

Young

You were associated with two of the principals.

Brady

And I don’t flatter myself at all on how this happened. It was a very simple thing. When Jim Cicconi, who was the staff secretary—when he resigned after the first two years of the Bush administration, they wanted someone else to come in and fill that position quickly and they wanted someone who already knew the President, who already knew the other assistants to the President, who already knew the issues, and that the President felt comfortable with particularly as the staff secretary position is one where you see literally everything that goes to the President, or almost everything that goes to the President. So you really want the right person.

So, again, I don’t flatter myself as to why I was selected for that position. Andy Card called me when I was at Transportation and asked if I would meet with Governor Sununu about possibly taking the position as he knew my background might fit the bill. I did not solicit the position. And so I came over and met with Governor Sununu, and interestingly, we got along well. And I think, at that time, he said, Would you be interested in taking the position? Jim’s leaving at the end of the year. It was an interesting time; we were in the middle of Desert Shield. So it was a challenging time, a fascinating time. At the same time, I did feel a great loyalty to the President and wanted to help and thought this was sort of a position I could in fact fill.

Young

As staff secretary you came in at a very unusual time, you might want to talk about. How did it affect the life of the staff secretary sort of before and afterwards, because you came in under a somewhat abnormal situation—I mean a critical—foreign affairs.

Brady

Yes a critical situation.

Masoud

And Cicconi was still there when you got there, right? There was some overlap, wasn’t there? No?

Brady

I don’t remember any. But Jim and I knew one another from actually the Reagan administration. Jim had worked for Jim Baker during the Reagan administration; I had worked for William French Smith in the Justice Department, and so we’d had lots of interaction. After I’d talked with Governor Sununu about the position, and he indicated we’d go forward with it, I came over and had lunch with Jim a couple of times before I began in the position. I think I gave myself a week or two to leave Transportation, to close out that which I needed to close out from Transportation. And then I visited with Jim on a number of occasions and with his staff. I don’t believe there was any overlap.

After I became staff secretary I went around and met with the various component parts of the staff secretary’s office. As you probably all know, I’ve talked about it in the piece I did with the Miller Center previously, you know it’s actually four offices. There was the office of the staff secretary itself, which was the inbox and the outbox of the President, if you will. And then there’s three other offices that make up the whole. One is the Records Management Office, which had thirty employees or more, and that office is the archives for the President and is the foundation of the Presidential library.

Masoud

That’s Records Management?

Brady

That’s Records Management, right. And then there’s the office called the Executive Clerk’s Office, and that’s the institutional memory of the presidency if you will, and that’s where you have the proclamations come out. It’s the link between the legislative and the executive branch. So that a message from the President would go from that office to the sergeant arms of the house. When you hear someone say, A message from the President when the Congress is in session, that’s the office that’s made that contact from the President.

Masoud

The invitation for the State of the Union—does it come through that office?

Brady

The formal documents or whatever, yes.

Masoud

Yes.

Brady

And then the third office, I mentioned a little earlier, was headed up by a Shirley Green who we talked about, and that’s the Correspondence Office. And there are about a hundred employees, and a couple hundred to three hundred volunteers and that office includes the White House comments line. If you call the White House and you want to make a comment on something, it goes through there. And Correspondence is big—during my time that office received some thirty to forty thousand letters a week addressed to the President. And that’s the office that would put out messages: to the local Kiwanis group, or to this or that organization. So it’s a big operation. When I first took it over, that was my first act—was to go around and introduce myself to each of the offices and spend time. And as I said earlier, it was a very interesting time because we were in the middle of Desert Shield, and the focus in the White House was, understandably, very much focused on that.

Young

Did it make a difference that the President was occupied with non-routine matters? Did it make a difference in the way you handled the job, or the way you had to manage the paper to keep everything working? Or was the President . . ..

Brady

I’ve said it before. George Bush is the most disciplined individual I have ever known. And the proof of that was that even in the midst of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, all those routine matters that I would be sending to him, he would act on the day they were sent in.

Young

So it didn’t make a difference really.

Brady

It didn’t really, except for this: as Desert Shield turned into Desert Storm, the White House, and the government as a whole, turned their attention to that; so that a lot of those things that might typically be coming through slowed down as people didn’t want to bother the President and they didn’t want to send something to him at a time when obviously his attention was, and should be, directed elsewhere. And so the volume, during that relatively short period of time of Desert Storm, was significantly reduced. And the focus was more on those things that Brent [Scowcroft] wanted to get done and had to get done, and those sort of communications. The phone calls the President had to be making to foreign leaders, proclamations, that sort of thing.

In fact, as an interesting aside, my first official act related to Desert Storm. I have a nice picture of myself with the President with a message he wrote at the bottom regarding my first official act. What it was was the Congressional authorization for the use of force in the Gulf War, which had just passed on a close vote. When it came into the Executive Clerk’s office we wanted to turn it around quickly and properly. But you also needed to have the authorization looked at to make sure it legally says what it purports to say. So that’s the sort of thing the staff secretary would do, was take it to Boyden Gray and have Boyden look at it on a crash basis in his office.

And we also put together a signing statement as to what the President would say on signing the authorization. And in this one, there’s a particular issue invoked, because Democrat and Republican Presidents do not accept that the War Powers Act compels them to get Congressional authorization for actions of this type; so a signing statement is something that has to be very well crafted. So that was my first scramble, almost my first day in the office. I finally got the paperwork together and I walked into the Oval Office, and hoped I was ready to answer any questions that the President might ask about it. And I was thinking, Good God, your first act.

The President and John Sununu came in and we took a picture of the three of us as the President signed the historic authorization. And that’s one thing I look back on with regret, that I didn’t push harder to make more of an event out of it. Perhaps to get Marlin Fitzwater to maybe bring in a press pool, a photography pool, or film crew. Those are the things when you’ve been there longer, you think about.

Young

Dave Demarest was there.

Brady

Dave was there. Yes, and he should have and maybe did say something. He would have known about it. In fact, if you do talk to Dave, ask him if he remembers that. Perhaps he wasn’t aware—Or Marlin, if you talk to Marlin. Because it was a very momentous act. On one hand, we could have made a determination that we wanted to play it down, because of the constitutional question about the War Powers Act. People forget that initially support for the Gulf War was a close question. Public opinion polls were mixed, Congress was iffy. The media was skeptical. France was concerned. The other Arab countries were very concerned. Saudi Arabia was concerned, etc.

Imagine, all those pieces coming together, and my view, that clearly was George Bush’s greatest moment, as I think is generally accepted. Being able to pull all those pieces together, it was quite a remarkable thing. So again, the one regret I have is that I didn’t—we didn’t push for it being more of a media event.

Young

Well, the President maybe didn’t feel the lack of it, because he had something so important to do. He was very—He was operating in—His very best talents, it seems to me, came out during that whole episode.

Brady

It did, and he was uniquely suited to doing it, because he had longstanding relationships with most of these foreign leaders. When he called on the phone, there was an immediate comfort level and an immediate credibility based on longstanding association. I remember an experience I had one time with him, back when he was Vice President and I was involved in some of the outreach efforts we talked about earlier, public liaison efforts. And I was in charge of an event whereby we were celebrating the whatever anniversary of the invention of print. So it was an event with the Chinese Ambassador, and the print was the movable-type print. And it was an event at the USA Today building.

The Chinese Ambassador was there and Vice President Bush was there, and we were signing some sort of proclamation, on behalf of the government, commemorating this occasion. And I’m standing next to a Chinese official, it might have been the DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission], the deputy in the embassy. And we were just kind of whispering together while the event was going on and he said, How do you like working for Vice President Bush? I said, I like it. He said, Well, I’ve known Vice President Bush and Barbara Bush since when he was our legate to China. He said, At that time I was a very lowly, lowly official in the Chinese foreign service and the President and Mrs. Bush were so gracious to me. They invited me to their home; they got to know my wife; I would do anything for Vice President Bush.

Here is a Chinese official. You know he’s the number two in their embassy, and I think later he became the Ambassador. That gives you an understanding of the longstanding nature of their relationships with people all over the world, the value of them. All those notes that you hear about. I used to refer to a quote from Newsweek in interviews I’d do to the effect that George Bush is one of those very fortunate people who has a thousand people who say they are one of his twenty best friends. Because of their communication.

Masoud

So you’re coming into the White House at this kind of crisis time and there’s a lot of national security stuff going on, and the President conferring often with Scowcroft and with Baker and I assume a lot of paper getting generated. Was there any short-cutting of the process in terms of your role? And paper just wouldn’t go through you and go straight to the President?

Brady

Absolutely. And it’s not troubling that that occurred. Plenty of paper did go through the normal processes, and it’s important that the vast majority of the paper did go through the processes. And Brent would agree if for no other reason than to make sure the Chief of Staff is in the loop where he should be, because that’s one of the things that could get lost in the process. Now paper on when does the bombing begin—I think Brent walks that in, and I don’t have any problem with that. And there were a number of things of that nature.

But a speech that the President is going to give from the Oval Office saying we’ve launched Desert Storm or whatever it is, that goes through the normal process. Now it might be more restricted as to the people who will look at it. Also phone calls that the President’s going to be making to Prince Bandar [bin Sultan], the Saudi Ambassador, or the like—they would come through the office and we’d make sure the Chief of Staff knew about them and others who had some contribution to make. The understanding with Brent was terrific in sorting out those things where he could take advantage of his unique position and just walk something in because it was so sensitive and where we should staff something more broadly to profitably get some additional information.

Young

I’d like to ask the same question in a more general sense. Tarek was talking about an unusual event when things happen, when the bombing starts and all that usually wouldn’t go through this. But did you find it . . ..

Brady

It’s a need-to-know situation.

Young

Need-to-know. Okay, right. Did you find that there were other channels, not through you, from other sources around that were not—You were not being inboxed or outboxed for, other than highly sensitive—

Brady

Sure, it would be naïve to suggest otherwise. The President’s standing at an event with Lamar Alexander and Lamar says, I have a great idea for an educational event. He’s going to hand it to him. But President Bush with his long experience in government, believed in the process—that the process was there to protect him, and so frequently those same things would come right back out from him and he’d say, Phil, please staff this. Please, Jim, please staff this. Please circulate it to Dick Darman [Office of Management and Budget] and others.

Young

That was my next question.

Brady

Dick had previously served as staff secretary in the Reagan administration and to his credit, more often than not, he respected the process because he realized the process was there to protect not only the President but Dick—that Dick couldn’t be accused of having subverted the system if something happened. Now did Dick have some things that he might want to, in the great balance of life, decide that he wanted to get right to the President, even though it would cause consternation or problems? Sure. He didn’t very often, because the President would send him right back out of his office.

I had a conversation once with John Podesta, who was the Chief of Staff to President Clinton, but when he first came into the Clinton administration he came in as staff secretary. So the hand-off between President Bush and President Clinton with regard to the staff secretary position was between myself and John Podesta. And I knew John from when he had worked on the Hill, so it was a friendly situation. I had him into the White House, and we went to the White House mess and talked of the system we had in place. I said here’s what works in my judgment and here’s what doesn’t work, and we had a good exchange. And then we met several times thereafter. So we did everything possible, certainly in that office, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

About a year later, John invited me back to the White House mess while he was still staff secretary. And he volunteered, Phil, you guys did it right and we did it wrong. And he said, What we didn’t do in the staff secretary’s office is we didn’t get our arms around the inbox and outbox issue. We allowed things to go over the transom to the President, and you saw the result. In the first year as you recall, I think it was Clinton himself who said it was just chaotic. And it just didn’t work. And so John later became Chief of Staff. In fact, I had a humorous exchange with him when he became Chief of Staff. I sent him a note congratulating him, saying, Old staff secretaries love to see any staff secretary do well. And he sent me back a note that said, Of course we do well, we know where all the bodies are buried.

Young

And it was then up to you, also, to see that the proper people had seen a document that was going in or coming out?

Brady

Right. The issue on the staff secretary position is that your responsibility on the way in is to make sure that whatever it is you’re sending in is ready for prime time. And by that, I mean is it legally scrubbed? Is it something the President should see? Maybe he shouldn’t see it at all. Is it something that really is right for the President to look at and spend time on? We used to have an expression in the White House: the most valuable commodity in the world is Presidential time. And so any time spent doing this means not doing something else. And that’s why I mentioned that during the Gulf War there was particular sensitivity to that, so very little went in there that didn’t relate to the Gulf War.

So the staffing function is that things come in from wherever—maybe from a Cabinet officer—and the question isn’t just, does it go directly to the President? You first want to see if this is an issue that is ready for Presidential time and attention. Does it deserve any Presidential time and attention? And if it does deserve Presidential time and attention are there other people who would want to comment on it? Are there other agencies that this implicates? If it’s an educational initiative, does it also have Department of Labor implications? Does it also have budgetary implications? Should Dick Darman comment and say, Gee, if we went that way, you realize we’d bust the budget? We’d have red ink as far as the eye can see, or whatever else. So you would compile the comments from others and then you’d seek to reconcile those, and that’s where there is some policy discretion that you exercise. And then you make a determination. And in case of doubt, you discuss it with the Chief of Staff.

Young

Did much go to you that the Chief of Staff had not already seen?

Brady

Oh sure.

Young

And so how was he informed? If you needed—If it was relevant.

Brady

The staffing process, as I’ve suggested, is to protect the President. But it’s also to protect the Chief of Staff, I guess is the point. And it is important for the Chief of Staff, not just for ego reasons but for good government reasons, that the Chief of Staff have the full picture of what the President is passing judgment on. Because the Chief of Staff has the unique role of overseeing the whole operation, and may know something else that’s relevant to what you’re proposing to send in to the President.

Young

So as the staff secretary, if you were to get a document that the Chief of Staff would need to know, or should know, you would buck it out? Or what would you do?

Brady

I would always staff something to the Chief of Staff—anything that’s going to the President. I would always staff something to the counsel’s office. My previous service as deputy counsel to the President had convinced me that there isn’t anything that the counsel’s office shouldn’t eyeball before the President of the United States sees it. Because there are things that, as you’ve seen in these last few years, the President of the United States would have just as soon not seen at all.

Masoud

But there was discretion involved in who you would staff this stuff out to?

Young

Some discretion.

Brady

Well, a lot of discretion, except for the two I just mentioned—Chief of Staff and the counsel.

Young

So among the discretionary things, what about the—what shall I say—the public liaison, the speechwriting, the public, the people on the staff concerned with the President’s public appearance. People who were concerned about his appearances, his schedule, his going out and talking. Were those people routinely informed of matters that had a public relations significance? How was that handled? Did you do that, or did someone else do that?

Brady

No, we would do that. But the whole function of the staff secretary role derived from a decision President Eisenhower made when he declared that he didn’t want to be his own sergeant major. I didn’t serve in the military, so I don’t truly know what the sergeant major means, but I take it as it’s kind of the filter. So President Eisenhower appointed a General [Andrew] Goodpaster to be his staff secretary. That’s where the function evolved from and every administration since has maintained the role of the staff secretary. And as I mentioned in the case of the staff secretary for President Clinton, it was initially devalued when John Podesta was the staff secretary. And John Podesta later acknowledged that was a big mistake, and he reaffirmed the importance of the position, when he became Chief of Staff.

But the notion is that everything that’s going to go to the President—that is any decision, memo, any phone call, any letter, any speech, anything should first have gone through the staff secretary’s office for whatever preliminary review, refashioning, and a decision as to whether or not it should even go forward at all. So a speech, for example prepared by Dave Demarest’s office for the President to do blah, blah, would first go to the staff secretary’s office, be looked at by the offices and departments or agencies it implicates in terms of the statements that are being made. Those offices would get a copy of that speech with a turnaround time saying, for example, please give me any comments you have within twenty-four hours. A copy would be sent to the Cabinet Secretary, which was Ede [Edith] Holiday, whom you’ve already spoken to, I believe, and it was David Bates before that. And that Cabinet Secretary would say, Gee, this involves the Department of Labor, and would send it to his or her contact in the Department of Labor for a quick turnaround time, and then she would consolidate the comments from the outside agencies.

My office would consolidate comments from the inside the White House with her comments. And then our job would be to reconcile all that, which, as you suggest, frequently had a policy component to it because reconciling was quite an undertaking. And then the reconciled draft speech would be sent to the President. The President would look at it, make his comments, additions, deletions, and send it back. We would get the speech to the speechwriters, who would incorporate the President’s comments, and send it back to us. Then we would look to make sure that his comments had been taken—if they hadn’t been taken, why haven’t they been—and the speech would then be finalized. If not done right, you could be called on the carpet with the President saying, I said to put this or that in there and it’s not, and you had to have an answer for why we didn’t put it in there. Other times the President would send out thoughts in draft form or outline saying, I’d like to give a talk on such and so, and our job was to make that happen. That’s just the speech side.

The staff secretary’s office also oversaw scheduling, which is a huge job. And I didn’t mention that as prominently before, because during my time in the White House Andy Card, as deputy Chief of Staff, chaired the group that made scheduling decisions. And that’s a huge part of the presidency. Again it’s that point that the most precious commodity in the world is Presidential time and thus making decisions on what to do.

And Andy was great. I did a CNN interview shortly after Andy was named as Chief of Staff, and they asked me if he ever had to make tough decisions or was he just too nice a guy to be Chief of Staff to President Bush 43. And I said, Well, I’ll tell you one thing specifically. I sat with him for two years and he had to make the scheduling decisions for George Bush I. And there’s nothing a whole lot tougher than that, because everyone has an advocate inside the White House for this event or that event. Every outside group insists you have to do the VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] event or you’ve got to do this school event or that event. And the Cabinet Secretaries have their pet events and every Governor has events, every mayor has events, every member of Congress has events—just imagine the quantity of things. And he ultimately had to make those calls, and he did it very successfully because he always looked at things through the prism of what’s best for President Bush, and that worked.

Riley

Did you find yourself also the object of occasional internal lobbying to get something onto the fast track?

Brady

Oh, absolutely. Tremendous lobbying. But you had to remember in legal terms who your client was. My client was not the person lobbying me, my client was the President. In fact, a funny story on that. Peter Wallace was appointed counsel to President Reagan in the middle of the Reagan administration. And Peter Wallace was very concerned about being counsel to the President and the great responsibility that entailed. And he used to keep a journal. The story he would tell is that on his last day in the law firm, just before he went over to the White House, he made a note in his journal: I am now more comfortable about my job as counsel to the President because my partners reminded me that I should treat the President just like a client, any other client. I owe him my due diligence as his lawyer and I’m going to deal with President Reagan in that fashion. Then his journal entry on day one after he started as counsel to the President was: Today my client bombed Libya. Quite a client . . . .

Young

Okay. Let’s break.

[BREAK]
Brady

Midway through my tenure we were on a trip on Air Force One, and Secretary [Robert] Mosbacher was on the plane—I think you said you spoke to Secretary Mosbacher—and he came up to me on Air Force One and brought me a proposal he wanted to make to President Bush with respect to President Bush’s upcoming trip to Japan. And the proposal was that President Bush

bring along a number of corporate executives with him, Lee Iacocca being one. And I mention this story because it illustrates a number of points with respect to people going around the system. By and large they did not. Here Secretary Mosbacher said, I want you to get John Sununu’s views on this and other people’s views, obviously it’s a significant thing and it will have great public interest. Effectively what he was proposing was that Air Force One have a chase plane with some corporate executives that are interested in breaking into the closed Japanese market. While those executives were there, they would be able to meet with Japanese corporate executives, thereby facilitating greater dialogue. That was something which he felt very strongly about, but others in the administration felt it was not the greatest idea in the world.

The reason I mentioned the story, which got a lot of media attention later on, was because this was the trip where we went first to Australia and then to Singapore, then to Korea and then to Japan. I say that by way of indicating that President Bush was on his last legs of this long and exhausting trip, and we did in fact have corporate executives join us at various parts of the trip. When we got to the final leg of the trip in Japan, at a state dinner hosted by Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, President Bush had the unfortunate dining experience that was seen around the world.

Another similar situation occurred when President Bush was being accused of not having done enough on the domestic agenda and not having followed Desert Storm with a domestic storm of some type. Lamar Alexander, who is someone I would commend to you very much to include in your list to talk to, because he’s quite a forward thinker and an original thinker, had some education proposals he wanted to make. He brought them to my attention to staff as appropriate, but with a real sense of urgency that this needs to be looked at quickly. We had lots of conversations back and forth and we accelerated the process as best we could. So that’s another example; those are the sorts of things that occurred.

Young

I’m very glad you brought that up because there is a considerable amount of discussion and a fair amount of testimony about what some people in the administration viewed as a political error in not making a strong public domestic policy push. The recession was on, or it was coming out of it, but the perception was the recession was on, the campaign was approaching. And it’s very interesting that you say, one of the examples was one in which there was some considerable pressure from some sources on the President to get out there and do something that people could perceive, in contradiction to the stereotype that he didn’t care, that he was disengaged and so forth and so on. I would imagine you were sitting—you would have been in the position to observe that going on.

Brady

Yes, and to observe and to opine. I’ll give you an example of efforts we made to counteract that perception, and one that also ties into the advent of Secretary Skinner as Chief of Staff. And that was in the transportation area. President Bush had proposed to Congress an intermobile service transportation bill, which for the first time integrated all the pieces of the transportation puzzle to try and have a truly more intermobile system, which carries with it lots of efficiencies that are good for the environment, good for international competitiveness, and good for a host of other reasons.

It was landmark approach avoiding having separate bills for highways, here’s one for mass transit, here’s one for rails. It was a comprehensive piece of legislation integrating all of the pieces of the transportation grid. And again, there are a host of reasons why that’s a good thing to do. Congestion, it addresses congestion, the environment, etc. And the President took a personal interest in the legislation, sent it to the Hill and announced the Congress should pass the legislation in the same time frame as the Gulf War—100 days. It did ultimately pass the Congress, but not within the time frame he had suggested.

And when Secretary Skinner came in as Chief of Staff, he said now that the bill has passed, it’s clearly an administration issue, no one can dispute that. Some modifications were made on the Hill, but it’s essentially what we had put proposed. It’s innovative and it’s good. Let’s not sign this in an Oval Office ceremony, or a Rose Garden ceremony, or any inside the beltway ceremony. Let’s actually take this bill and sign it at a road construction project in Dallas. And this had almost never been done before. None of you probably saw it on TV, because perhaps we didn’t market it enough. But we flew to Dallas, we went to a huge road construction site at a major intersection. It was symbolic of the development going on, that this legislation would further stimulate. I personally transported the bill—the bill was huge. And we brought some of the principal Congressional participants, and we had a signing ceremony with speeches, press statements and fact sheets.

So our effort was to counteract in as clear a fashion as possible that perception. That said, the perception was certainly there. It was said we needed a domestic storm following Desert Storm. That didn’t happen. What he did was on more of a rifle-shot basis, the transportation bill being an example. Was that a mistake? You know the ultimate result—that perception among other things certainly contributed to Bush not being reelected. And for that, I know all of us who worked for him and love him feel badly that we didn’t better serve him in that regard.

There were many other initiatives we put out there on the domestic front and never got much purchase. We had a Jobs 2000 initiative we put out at one time; we had a welfare reform package; we had a health care—a health care program that focused on private sector involvement and initiative. But a lot of these things didn’t move forward for one reason or another. Some required legislation that didn’t move forward, in large measure, because Congress was controlled by the other party. And some things we tried to do administratively never quite caught the popular imagination and attention. That’s our responsibility.

Young

You’re in a position where you seem in competition for the most valuable commodity, the President’s time. And I’m sure there were some people who felt very strongly that—

Masoud

Just to follow up on that point. This is kind of funny in that my fiancée is a management student at Columbia University and sent me something from a textbook that they were reading—a management textbook. And it said that George Bush was so concerned with getting good information and he felt that John Sununu wasn’t feeding him information, that he set up this system of a drop box, so that staff—do you know anything about this? Yes. So that staff members could directly send things to the President and the President could read them without Sununu’s having seen them. An example of the short-cutting of the process that we were talking about.

Young

An example of the short-cutting of the process, or of fiction.

Masoud

Well, yes, or of fiction.

Young

Get that author’s name I want to check this out.

Masoud

Yes, I will, I’ll bring it in. But this was not something that you were aware of?

Brady

Well, no I’d go as step further and say it didn’t happen. I would have been aware of a drop box because—

Masoud

It was his mailbox in Maine.

Brady

Oh, no, now that certainly may be true. George Bush and Mrs. Bush maintained an extraordinary correspondence with people of all types. And they did have their Christmas card list. They had an incredible Rolodex of names and numbers of friends they’d met over a lifetime of public service and in the private sector And for many of those people they maintained their own communication. In other words, a letter from Bucky [William] Bush would not necessarily come through the White House. It would go to Maine or go to Houston or do something of that nature. There was an awful lot of that.

However, when those individuals, in contrast with what you’re reading about in the paper today, when one of those matters would suddenly involve public policy in something that was substantive, as opposed to, you’ve got to do more on education, you’ve got to do more on health care, whatever. But if it was a substantive proposal, President Bush, as I said earlier, was a believer in the process and the need to get the necessary input and he’d send it back out. He’d say, Would you staff this out, would you get input on this, would you look into this, would you look into that.

So yes, there were other means of communication to the President, to the first lady, and very appropriately for friends and family, etc. But any time it got into areas that really involved government policy, the President sent it back out for review.

Just a couple of similar canards I’ll mention for the record that I do know first-hand. One was mentioned in the paper yesterday, regarding President Bush 41, being accused of being out of touch because on one trip to Florida he went to a grocery store convention on innovative products. It was not just a this is what’s out there type convention. This was cutting edge, state-of-the-art stuff, and President Bush did really look at a futuristic scanner, and expressed interest. And an individual, Andy Rosenthal, a New York Times reporter, who was not at the event—was not there, did not see the bemusement, or pleasure, or whatever expression was on President Bush’s face—heard about the event and wrote a story in the New York Times about how the President doesn’t get it and was out of touch with the real world. That fit a press theme that he didn’t get it.

McCall

It was an inventory scanner too, wasn’t it? It wasn’t a pricing scanner.

Brady

No, what I’m saying is that it was not the sort of thing that people, that everybody sees in the grocery store. It was a 100 percent canard and it picked up a life of its own. I’ll give you just one other example, which I can speak to directly. It was one of the debates where President Bush was accused of looking at his watch, suggesting that he just wanted to get out of there, that he didn’t really want to participate in the debate. And this was with Carole Scott as the moderator, I believe. Anyway, do you remember the incident?

Riley

Oh, sure.

Brady

And everyone talks about it. Well the truth of the matter is, at the very beginning of the debate, Carole Scott had said to President Bush, Bill Clinton, and to Ross Perot, Now there won’t be any filibustering here. And she said, That means you too, Mr. Perot, because Ross Perot had been cited in the press many times for his tendency to go on and on; that had happened in previous debates. So President Bush, at one point during the debate when Ross Perot was going on at great, great length, looked at Carole—and if you watch the tape, you’ll see he looked at her then his watch suggesting clearly Hey, Perot’s time is up—meaning he’s filibustering. The media picked it up and wrote the story as another example that he didn’t get it.

Young

It’s—Back in the old days, when I confronted this problem, it was called camera truth. And he did look at his watch while Perot was speaking, that’s camera truth. Why and how he looked at it—

Brady

If you look at the tape, you’ll see him look up at Carole and kind of look at her and raise his eyebrow—you know, he does that eyebrow thing.

Young

That wasn’t on camera.

Riley

At least he didn’t sigh heavily, as was the case in the most recent debates.

Brady

He saved himself. Well anyway those are just the sorts of things that just drive us crazy.

Young

There’s the Jimmy Carter rabbit story too.

Masoud

I’ve heard that repeated so often, and now knowing the—

Young

That there was a rabbit—

Riley

The tennis courts—

Young

The tennis—Yes, but that wasn’t a picture.

Brady

What happened with the rabbit story? I remember the rabbit story, but what was the truth on that?

Young

Yes, I’ve seen photographs. There was a rabbit, but Carter wasn’t being attacked by the rabbit.

Masoud

He was trying to shoo it away from the edge of the boat.

Young

Yes, he was saying get away—He was being chased by hounds and it jumped, and in desperation—Jimmy—he was out fishing alone in the boat, you know, trolling along, and this rabbit is on his stern. And he took the oar and slapped it away.

Brady

Oh, defend him now. When I speak on this subject, I’ll add that to my litany.

Young

Well, Jody Powell thought it was funny and told it to a reporter, and the next morning it was all over: Carter attacked by rabbit.

Masoud

Was it Andy Rosenthal?

Young

No, I don’t think he and Andy were that close. But anyway. They had a whole photographic sequence of Carter and the rabbit down there in the Carter library.

Masoud

Oh, do they?

Young

Oh yes, the White House photographer caught it. So the rabbit was there. But I’m wasting valuable time. It’s because the interview—interviewing is such fun. So—

Riley

I’ll ask a more mundane question. This is about the relationship between routine paper work flow that you were doing and the Cabinet meetings where you’ve got strong individuals coming, sitting around a table, and having the opportunity to voice ideas about what ought to be done on certain issues, and I guess meeting the President himself and presumably occasionally slipping him pieces of paper. You’ve already testified that on many occasions, those pieces of paper got bucked right back out to you for the process. How frequent was it that the oral communications became problematic for you because there wasn’t a piece of paper to deal with, that in fact, you were dealing with something that was kind of coming over the transom orally?

Brady

I don’t want to leave a misunderstanding on that. President Bush encouraged the Cabinet meetings to be very frank, candid, fulsome, substantive. He did not want pabulum served up in the Cabinet meetings, although there was a great deal of pabulum. And so in terms of those communications, those are roundtable ideas and it was often very vigorous and it should be, and that’s what he desired. What I’m referring to is the actual, ultimate product of that: the President may be giving a speech saying something or other. Well, that speech would then come through the staffing process, and the wording and how it’s phrased, or what comes out—that would be where a lot of times the ultimate policy would be made. The exchange was vigorous and should be, and he encouraged it. But those sort of communications, in reality, need to be followed up by more paper.

Young

And as you pointed out earlier, President Bush was—had a network of contacts that he could use the phone for, so not everything was even reflected on paper.

Brady

No that’s absolutely right.

Young

Bush wasn’t unique in this, but all Presidents who are any good, I think, manage to have eyes and ears broader than their own staff, and their own administration. But Bush, as I understand, used the telephone an awful lot to get in touch with people, to get information, to get feedback and check out—

Brady

And to embarrass his staff, basically. The stories I told earlier.

Young

When they deserved it.

Brady

And we did.

McCall

Let me ask a similar question, there’s been a drying up of paper in the process. And some of it’s also very self-consciously not wanting to put things to paper. Did you find that was going on? That some things were—not necessarily anything that was bad in any sense but just something that people did not want to write the memos and things. I know others have said that they deliberately did not write as many as they might have because they didn’t want to put things to paper.

Brady

Well, I have a little bit of a unique perspective on this, having also served as deputy counsel, and in that position having had to counsel individuals in the White House on the Presidential Records Act and the implications of that. And that in and of itself causes some drying up of paper, to use your expression, because people did not appreciate that everything becomes a Presidential document.

Now we were quite surprised ourselves, even knowing what we know and mostly being veterans, that when we visited the Bush library for the first time—this Bush library advisory group—and after the archives were brought down—the boxes and boxes and boxes of materials. Just as a demonstration, they pulled out several boxes that had our names on them. Members of the administration such as Boyden, Marlin, Andy, myself—and they’d have a little stack of Andy Card’s boxes, and a stack of Phil Brady boxes and a stack of Boyden Gray boxes—and we all for fun were allowed to rummage through them. We were in shock at all the things that were in there—notes shoved back and forth that perhaps weren’t written as felicitously as you might have liked and perhaps expressing a little too candidly your view of so and so’s proposal to do this, these handwritten notes—we said—whoa. So even with that drying up of paper there’s still plenty, plenty, plenty of paper.

What’s happened, I think, that’s more pernicious, is what’s happened in the Clinton administration. There’s now much greater appreciation amongst White House staff and others that everything is discoverable in civil or criminal proceedings. There were some areas that we’d always viewed as sacrosanct, such as materials in the White House counsel’s office. Our view was, notes made by individuals in the White House counsel’s office were always going to be protected by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege. And now, as we’ve seen in recent years, there are Court of Appeals decisions, and others, broadening significantly what we would have thought is discoverable under the right circumstances. Even Iran-Contra—you had a question about that. Portions of Ronald Reagan’s hand-written diary were reviewed. Now that was done voluntarily. But there was one instance during the Clinton administration where an individual, Josh Steiner, who I believe was in Treasury. He worked for Rubin. Was it Rubin?

Riley

I was thinking Rubin, but I—

Brady

The point is, Josh Steiner, during some investigation, had his diary subpoenaed and it was produced on the Hill. And in it, he made certain statements that he wanted to retract and he was put in the position before a Congressional committee of effectively having to say to the Congressional committee, Well, frankly I lied to my diary.

And so it’s a reality and that’s a shame. And it’s a shame for reasons beyond what you say, and that is there’s not much institutional memory. What the Reagan administration turned over to the Bush administration wasn’t much, although in the counsel’s office we left some materials, so that you didn’t have to completely reinvent the wheel. But I can bet you between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, there’s very little. And so you really have to start fresh and that’s a shame because a lot of it is non-partisan, not political at all. It’s simply good governance and lessons learned over the course of the presidency. That’s why what you all are doing is important work beyond just the obvious of preserving it. And there have been a lot of studies done recently that you’ve seen—

Young

Yes, Martha Kumar’s.

Brady

Martha Kumar’s. I talked to her at length. I think those are very important things to do.

Young

Yes.

Masoud

Just a very mundane question back on the role of the staff secretary. I mean obviously as you’ve said your role was not just managing paper, but there was substance to it. Did you participate in policy debates, or if there was a debate about a particular issue that you knew would be brought to the President’s attention, were you invited to those meetings?

Brady

I won’t suggest that we were central in policy making. You do want to have someone in the staff secretary position who has a wide-ranging understanding of the issues. Someone who—I think by and large it has been lawyers—who looks at words more carefully and tends to be more detail-oriented. But the principal function you want that person to perform is to be an honest broker. Someone who genuinely will take the views from the various offices and where they conflict, try and reconcile them and bring them together.

Now, that’s a perfect world. The reality, of course, is we all bring into the position greater or lesser expertise in different areas and sometimes that’s helpful. For example, there were some areas where I would play a greater role than simply being this scribe because I happened to know something more about it. Drug policy areas—President Bush gave a national drug control policy speech in September of ’91, I think. The major address was something I played a greater role in since I knew something about it. And I could bring the various people together. Transportation, I could play a greater role in those issues.

But other than those areas, what would happen is the policy role you’re playing is to try and, again, reconcile the views of the various offices in a way that’s most advantageous to the President. I’ll give you a specific example, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was one of the landmark pieces of legislation that came out of the Bush administration. And I think President Bush was uniquely positioned to be able to put that legislation forward and get it enacted, it had been tried for a lot of years unsuccessfully. After it was passed, as it was written in very general terms, the rule-making was going to be critical. And so before the rule-making began you wanted to influence that process as much as you could. During the Congressional debates, there were colloquies in the Senate and the House, trying to influence the ultimate rule-making, interpreting the very general language, there shall be accommodations for anyone with disabilities.

When that legislation got to the White House, there were different views in the White House as to how it should be interpreted. One issue was retroactivity of the penalty provisions of the legislation. And I sat down with the two principals on either side of that debate. There was a very lengthy discussion back and forth that I moderated resulting in the language that ultimately was in the signing statement the President signed.

And that signing statement becomes part of the record, and it helps the rule-making. And they have been quoted in Supreme Count opinions, and they’re certainly important to the regulators and they’re at least as significant as colloquies on the Hill.

Young

Maybe we can get to the—to Skinner.

Masoud

Sure, sure.

Young

Skinner in his new—wearing his new hat. And as you can imagine there’s lots in print and out of print about the events and the characterization of what went wrong, and it’s almost always what went wrong in the White House after Sununu left, and as the campaign couldn’t get their act together. Everything or anything you have to say on that because you were present and you knew the principals.

Brady

Yes. I was in a special position because Sam and I’d worked together for the first two years in the Bush administration in the Department of Transportation. As we talked earlier, I had come back to the White House prior to Sam’s arrival in the White House. I’d been there, I guess, almost a year before Sam came in. And I think I’d talked before about what I think the President’s thinking was, presumptuous as that may be, but I do believe he made a more objective decision on Sam than some have said. Sam seemed to have some desirable strengths and Sununu’s strengths had dissipated over time.

Young

This may be a case of the law of unanticipated consequences.

Brady

And when Sam came in there was a level of acceptance certainly, and perhaps even excitement that he was a good choice for the position. And when he first came in, he was certainly much more inclusive and did touch some of the bases that I indicated before, including outreach to the press, the other Cabinet secretaries on the Hill, etc.

However, one of the first thing he did, as we talked earlier, that I think got him off on the wrong foot, despite all the right intentions, was he brought in a management consultant, Gene Croissant, who I mentioned earlier, my wife and I had had contact with, and was in fact a great group. But he brought him in at a time when he didn’t really have the luxury of doing a full management review of functions of each of the offices of the White House. And Sam, again, his intentions were right, he wanted to get his arms around the White House; he wanted to do it up front with someone who he trusted to give him an overview of what each office did and where there might be some efficiencies—and perhaps some adjustment opportunities. But it was perceived by everyone that Gene Croissant was going to be interviewing with each of them individually, with an eye toward then recommending to Sam Skinner whether or not they should be retained, or if there should be someone else be brought into the position.

So that created apprehension, as you can imagine. And unfortunately, created an apprehension level at a terrible time. That’s why I said timing was a big part of this. Because this was the time when Pat Buchanan was challenging President Bush for the nomination of the party. You had five or six Democrats running around the country criticizing the President. You had the media very aggressively saying the President isn’t doing enough about the recession. And a campaign, an embryonic campaign was being set up that had two heads, Bob Teeter and Fred Malek; two people who were still deciding who was going to be responsible for what, and what the White House was going to be responsible for. So there’s an awful lot going on. And it was, at a minimum, a distraction to have the Gene Croissant review happening when you still had your responsibilities to meet on a day-to-day basis to keep the trains running. One thing I think Sam will—if you do meet with him—have you met with him yet?

Young

We haven’t—He has just taken a new job and he said to please defer. And we will come back to him.

Brady

I think one thing you can ask him—I think he’ll concur—And I had a little bit of a special relationship with him because of our prior association, so I wasn’t quite under the misapprehensions about what Gene Croissant was doing. And I do think he was genuinely trying to give Sam kind of a blueprint of how the White House could work more efficiently, and wasn’t forgetting individual staff members. But the one thing I recommended to Sam, very directly, was, Whatever else you do, ask Andy Card to remain your deputy. Because, I said, anything else you want to do, you first have to have the trains run on time and that’s one thing Andy has as his strength. That didn’t happen, and Andy obviously went on to be Secretary of Transportation. And he brought in as the deputy . . ..

Masoud

A Louisianan—[William] Henson Moore.

Brady

He brought in Henson Moore as his deputy, who had been the deputy Secretary of Energy. He brought in Clayton Yeutter to be a policy overview guy. He brought in Sherrie Rollins to take over some of the Dave Demarest portfolio. Dave had a number of offices under him.

Young

Marlin Fitzwater.

Brady

And then he gave Marlin a little more responsibility on scheduling, which was what Andy used to do.

Young

Some of Demarest—

Brady

Some of Demarest’s responsibilities, right. So they made a number of changes. But the one I am citing for you, the Andy Card one, was, in my judgment, the biggest mistake. Now it turned out well for Andy, and maybe it all would have happened anyway because Andy certainly was interested in the Secretary of Transportation position. But for Henson Moore and Clayton Yeutter, both great individuals and good friends, it was a difficult fit. Once you’ve been Secretary of an agency, which Clayton Yeutter had, or deputy Secretary of an agency, as Henson Moore had, and you’ve been there for a number of years, it’s tough to come back into a staff situation, a true staff situation where you have to yourself be willing to draft talking points, you have to be willing to make the tough phone calls and these sorts of things. It’s a different role.

I think if I were to pinpoint where I think Sam had difficulty he had is that he didn’t appreciate the staff role sufficiently. It’s hard to return to the staff role in the White House. When all is said and done, the White House is relatively thinly staffed to handle all that there is to handle. Increasingly issues end up in the White House.

Young

Clayton Yeutter had had some comparable experience in the White House—Trade Representative, Deputy Trade Representative. But Skinner had had none. This was an entirely new experience for him, wasn’t it?

Brady

Being in the White House certainly was. That’s why I mentioned Clayton. Clayton’s one of my favorite people. And I’m not disparaging him in any way, shape, or form. It’s simply making the point that after you’ve been a Cabinet Secretary for a number of years it’s hard to return to the staff role.

Young

Exactly. He didn’t return anything—

Brady

Well, I’ll return to my original point: the timing was such that Sam didn’t have the luxury of doing a full management overview of the White House—deciding what works, what doesn’t work, and adjusting it—because in addition to the internal things I’ve mentioned, he had the campaign out there which was flexing its muscle and asserting itself, and there wasn’t a clear first among equals—between Sam, Fred Malek and Bob Teeter. You suddenly had a lot of inclusiveness, and a lot of conversation, but you really needed some decision-making. So ironically, one of the qualities that John Sununu had, that everyone would agree he had, his willingness to make a decision, was missing.

So my own view was that the ultimate decision to go to Jim Baker as Sam’s replacement as Chief of Staff was simply a recognition of that. We needed a true first among equals who everyone would acknowledge as that. Someone who you knew had the President’s best interests at heart, and would make the calls. And that’s where I think Sam ran into the problems. His timing was just real tough.

Masoud

It occurs—Does that jive with other stories you’ve heard?

Young

It’s among the more charitable.

Brady

To Sam? Obviously my associations. Maybe not, but it’s—

Young

There are a number who say, Why is this important? It’s important partly because of the timing. The campaign is—in hindsight, it looks—The disruption in the White House with a new Chief of Staff coming in with a different program that intended to remedy the problems, but apparently, for some reason, they get worse. A campaign that doesn’t seem to be able to get off the ground very well. Is the problem a lack of coordination? That he wasn’t around Washington? Who was in charge of the campaign? Is the problem with the President? To what extent are these all contributing factors?

You haven’t mentioned [Richard] Darman in this. But it will be kind of a puzzle, I think, with people trying to figure out—You went through all the Chiefs of Staff in your talk and about the different qualities of each and how they made sense from Bush’s perspective. But other people looking at that might see some puzzling things and so I’m not adopting any point of view; I’m asking. You might have something that could contribute to understanding this. One of the puzzles, I think, is why there weren’t changes in personnel that were associated with some of the problems in the White House. It looks like Darman may have become, by this time, quite a liability. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. Certainly he was not supportive of Skinner’s desire for more inclusiveness, except perhaps rhetorically, because anybody who knows Dick knows that he feels very strongly about the role of the OMB.

Brady

Dick?

Young

Yes.

Brady

Yes.

Young

Yes, very. And the campaign was not yet on fire, it hadn’t taken off or something. So where was the President in all of this? Were there some understandings about what Skinner could or shouldn’t do? Were there any agreements about appointments to staff, or changes in staff of the sort that Sununu had a strong and pointed role in the choice of the White House staff, but not everybody? That’s a kind of a puzzle. How did it manage to sort of look like it’s falling apart?

Brady

It’s a puzzle. No, I mean it’s obviously—

Young

Can you cast any light on that, just give us your thoughts.

Brady

Sure. The President and I’ve never spoken about this, this is just pure supposition, but I believe the President thought making the move to Sam Skinner from John Sununu, which the President clearly was involved in, was the right answer. And as I’ve indicated, on the face of it, it did touch a number of the concerns that we thought and others thought needed to be addressed. That I think you’ll hear from everybody consistently. The fact that the Skinner decision did not work perfectly for some of the reasons we’ve discussed was obviously a disappointment to us, to Sam Skinner, to the President. And the legitimate question to be asked: Did it fester too long?

Young

Yes.

Brady

It clearly wasn’t working out. You want to give someone time to right the ship, and I guess what doesn’t come out from the dry record is how much we were scrambling with this stuff, because there was so much going on with Pat Buchanan, with Democratic charges, with the economy, with the campaign being established, etc. And so there wasn’t much opportunity for great reflection and consideration of different scenarios.

And I think there’s one other factor here, which is my own view on President Bush, that he, I believe, believed that the election itself would sort itself out largely after the conventions, and even more to the point, the public would pay greater attention—would start to pay serious attention to this election after Labor Day. And so I don’t think he viewed these early start-up problems as critical. And they turned out to be critical. If somebody put a gun to my head, one of the things I think we should have done, is to have started earlier in full campaign mode. The political apparatus should have started in full campaign mode much earlier.

The President had been a very, very good President. And he had done something remarkable that I don’t think gets the attention it deserves, and I don’t just mean the Gulf War. What I mean is that he managed the end of the Cold War, largely on American terms. A huge thing, which I don’t see much written about. Who would have ever thought, even sitting in the White House, that not only would the Berlin Wall come down, or that Germany would be reunited, but that Germany would be reunited and in NATO. I mean, it’s just astounding and it didn’t just happen. A President had to make it happen. It was a phenomenal thing and it was his management, his long term associations that allowed all that to happen.

So his view was, and certainly it is mine, and I think it will be historians’, that he was a very good President. And I think he thought at the end of the day, people would conclude the same and ultimately he would be reelected. So I don’t know that he recognized the seriousness in the political challenge, so perhaps some of this drift was allowed to take place too long.

Masoud

But this is a guy who had won the Presidential campaign before. He’d run for President himself, he’d seen Ronald Reagan run for President. I mean it seems terribly naïve that he would think that it could wait until Labor Day, having been involved in this stuff himself so extensively.

Brady

Yes, well, I’m overstating that to some degree. Obviously he ran in the primary against somebody, very aggressively. I was with him in New Hampshire and all those places. So there was lots and lots of running around as part of the primary, and he defended himself from all of the charges from the Democrats running for their nomination. But I meant in terms of full-bore attention being devoted to it. I think he had a gentlemanly notion, and beyond just the gentlemanly notion, a personal view that the public can’t stay engaged for the extraordinary

length of time of present day campaigns, but rather they start to engage after Labor Day. You can pick whatever day you want—maybe it’s the conventions when they start to pay attention to it. But the difficulty with that is, if you’re too far behind, perceptions have started to become firm about this, that, or the other thing.

Young

I think it would be an interesting theoretical—It would be a real conversation between former President Bush and former President Carter as a one-term President-predecessor. Because you see, the historian sees some similar elements in both. Both Presidents were confronted with major challenges from within their own party, or what should have been within their own party. Ted Kennedy against Carter for the nomination. Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot—he had it more. Both started their campaigns quite late. Under the same circumstances Carter was criticized for his Rose Garden strategy so to speak.

And you can comment on this, but it also looks like there is a similarity between these two Presidents in their expectation that meritorious service would be recognized by the public and be rewarded. And they apparently were both two people who found some conflict between executing their responsibilities as President of the United States and going out on the campaign trail—in playing the politician and the candidate. I don’t know whether this is true of Bush or not, but as I listen to these accounts, I’m just struck with certain—

Brady

Yes. I guess I’d draw distinctions here. And I don’t mean to say it in a partisan way at all, but I think President Bush had an enormous record of accomplishment that I think will stand the test of time.

Young

Indeed. Carter didn’t have anything like that.

Brady

And I don’t believe he did. Carter had the Camp David Accords, which were very good. But if you recall, inflation was where it was and interest rates were where they were and there were a host of other things. Granted Bush, at the end, there was a question about whether we were in a recession, how deep a recession. The truth is the numbers, I think, will tell the story. We were coming out of the economic downturn. And, in fact, we used to joke that at the end of the campaign when various indicators came out—the numbers came out. They showed we were coming out of whatever we were in at the time, and that things were looking up, and we cited those on the campaign trail. And we were accused of making it up. Later when they went back and adjusted the numbers, it turned out we’d understated the recovery, the numbers were actually better once adjusted. So we joked that we did the release with our usual efficiency, we screwed it up.

Young

But there is a striking contrast between the first campaign, the Bush campaign, and the second, as you pointed out. And that itself would be—Well, why this great difference?

Masoud

I mean there was verve and energy on the part of the candidate in the first campaign that you just did not see in the second.

Young

Or it didn’t come across.

Masoud

Exactly.

Young

But it was there and now it’s in question, and the media perception of that.

Brady

Yes. I’m going to repeat what I said in my previous talk to the Miller Center, but it is kind of illustrative of the concern we had—I hate to sound like a typical Republican complaining about media coverage, but it genuinely happened—I used to have copies of the articles to show people when I spoke on the subject. We had a real difficulty getting what we consider balanced media coverage for President Bush’s speeches. I was with the President much of the time so I’m speaking first-hand here. Crowds were enthusiastic, huge, emotional, all those things, and I doubt any of you saw that on your television sets.

But the example I use to try and convey the problem we were having was that following a train trip at which we had tremendous crowds at every whistle-stop—one I remember in particular with candles—everyone with candles—huge. It was light as far as you could see. It was just a beautiful thing—an emotional thing. Anyway, after one of those events, the Washington Post story by the two traveling reporters—so this was not a news analysis—had the Bush story beginning with something along the lines: Haunted by Iran-Contra, he . . . and the story on candidate Bill Clinton beginning with something along the lines His voice hoarse, but his spirit undaunted. We all went to Marlin and said, Marlin, you’ve got to go say something. This is outrageous.

But that was symptomatic of the way the coverage was now. And again I don’t blame the media—maybe it was our fault that we didn’t better package, market, make our events more compelling, or whatever. But I think there was nowhere near as great a difference between the ’88 and the’92 campaign as is perceived out there in terms of crowds, organization, advertising—all the various things which make up a campaign.

And I think a lot of the distinction is that the media for its part, and maybe the public for its part, were kind of ready for a change. There’d been, in their view, three Republican terms—two Reagan and one Bush—and so there was a was kind of a turning of the page. This is my own theory, not on the basis of anything.

Young

It will take a long time to figure it out. I’m just concerned to get yours and everybody else’s views on this. I don’t—I haven’t figured it out.

Brady

Exactly, as you can see I’m struggling with it now and I’ll struggle with it to the day I die. But that’s my one conclusion, so far, is that the public as a whole —

Young

I think probably people will also have to look at the replacement as scheduled with Jim Baker, the timing of that, and the changes in the campaign fairly late in the day that Baker brought; he was sort of a take charge guy, to put it mildly.

Masoud

I was wondering if you could talk about that. You mentioned that the President was clearly involved in the Sununu departure. What about the Skinner departure and the decision to bring in Baker? Could you give us your view of how that unfolded?

Brady

I don’t have any insight on that, other than that obviously the President was clearly involved in it. Jim Baker is his friend; no one else was talking to Jim Baker.

Masoud

But in your talk, you described it as a kind of joint decision that Skinner and the President just kind of came to this realization that Skinner had to go and—

Brady

Like the Sununu—It’s not as far off as your smirk may make it look. But—

Young

You’re found out.

McCall

It’s on tape now.

Brady

That’s why I mentioned it. I wanted to make sure, let the records know that—The Sununu decision, I said he was clearly involved, but there were joint aspects to that as well. Sununu was persuaded over time that he was becoming the issue; it was pretty hard not to be persuaded to that because you could see it on your television every night.

Masoud

Were you one of the guys Sununu lobbied? There was that story in Fitzwater’s book.

Brady

I certainly was one of the people that talked to him at great length. But lobby—I’m not going to put it that way. I mean he consulted with a number of us to get our take on it, my take was what I just described: that you cannot become, during an election year, you can’t become the issue yourself. That’s hurting the President. I believe John Sununu came to that conclusion himself after talking to a lot of different people. He did the right thing.

And I don’t know if you’ve seen his resignation letter. Of course it’s very unlike the Don Regan resignation letter as Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan; it says, I hereby resign as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. Period. John’s was very positive and very appreciative. The Baker-Skinner decision—I don’t recall how I described it in my previous talk at the Miller Center, but indubitably President Bush reached out to his friend Jim Baker and recognized that they needed, as I’ve said, a first among equals—someone indisputably to be in charge of both the campaign and the White House who could make decisions stick. And make decisions with the speed that they needed to be made. And you know, that’s what happened. Now, I do acknowledge that perhaps it was allowed to drift too long, and that’s where there’s room for debate.

Riley

We’ve kind of moved in the direction of politics, and I hadn’t intended to ask this question, but I will in this relation: that is, on several occasions before, we’ve talked about the absence of Lee Atwater. And I don’t know whether you had any relations with Atwater at any point in time, but I wondered if you have any comments in relation to perhaps Atwater’s absence contributing to this sense of a—or at least the public perception of a kind of lack of willingness to get engaged in the campaign at a very early stage.

Brady

Yes, I certainly knew Lee Atwater, God rest his soul. And—But I was not an intimate with him and I’m not one of those who makes that argument. However, enough people I have respect for do make that argument that perhaps there’s something to it. It’s not my line and—because what I’m not aware of was whether he had that kind of relationship with President Bush, that he really could have gotten him to engage earlier or not. Then again a number of people, who may know better, say he would have. So I have respect for it, but I don’t know the answer.

Riley

I didn’t think so. I appreciate you handling it that way, but I thought I would get the question out there. The other thing that related to politics was on several occasions thus far you’ve mentioned the turmoil, or the scrambling I think was the word you used, in the White House associated with the Buchanan challenge. And I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit more about how that was resonating into the counsels of the state as you’re processing paperwork or you’re seeing people floating proposals to the President about how we’re going to deal with this challenge. Or is there a vaguer sense of unease about how you go out and meet this attack on a point that a lot of Presidents don’t have to deal with?

Brady

Yes, it’s more the latter than the former. I mean there were a number of initiatives we came out with, but they were always in the pipeline and there were other things. So, it was more the speeches that President Bush would give would be where I would intersect with that sort of a concern. In general, the problem was—those of you who know Pat Buchanan—he’s a very articulate, Katie-bar-the-door, peasants-with-pitchforks guy whose rhetoric is very catchy and caused perhaps disproportionate media attention devoted to him, in terms of the ultimate vote at the end of the day. And so that’s the challenge that I was referring to because it caused the President to be on one hand—I’m not a political expert, we’ll talk about that sometime—but being battered on the right by Pat Buchanan, very colorful language and very articulately, and then by five or six Democratic potential nominees for President pounding him on the left. So in between, he’s going to be giving speeches and talking and announcing things, doing things and how that all falls out is what I’m referring to.

Young

It’s getting to be time where you need to get on the road. Is it your view that when people try to look at the turning points in the political fortunes of the administration—not the achievements—but the turning points, that the President’s agreement as part of the deal with Congress on the budget should be marked as a turning point where the President’s troubles that ultimately fed into all the other factors of re-election occurred?

Brady

No.

Young

Okay. Good.

Brady

That’s contrary, you want a little something different. Similar to the Lee Atwater question I was asked before, I’ll speculate on what happened. Here’s a President who’s at 91 percent approval rating a year, not much more than a year, prior to the election lost. What did he get—38 percent? Something like that.

Masoud

It was around there, 38-39.

Brady

38-39 is—

Riley

We’re bringing up—We can talk about Perot’s . . ..

Brady

Yes. But anyway, how did that possibly happen? So I understand your question and that you all will be wrestling with for years to come and we’re all wrestling with it in our own minds. We all talk about it in our own confidences and a couple of the reasons that have been cited: there’s the Lee Atwater one, the other is breaking the pledge, and I put that in quotes. I’m not a devotee of either one of those positions, although as I’ve answered the Lee Atwater question, enough people I respect cite the breaking of the pledge as part of the problem that I can’t dismiss it out of hand. And it may well have been a factor, maybe even an important factor.

It was important to this degree in my judgment: it made it difficult for us to make pledges because that opened yourself up to the other sides: yes, we made a pledge once to do this, or to talk much about those sort of issues—because you put your guard down and you were—it was open season on you because of that subject. Ultimately I don’t think, I don’t agree that was what happened.

And it could well be, probably will come out to be, that it’s a combination of all these things including the one you just mentioned, the Ross Perot factor, his on-again, off-again campaign and all the disruption that caused. And I think you all are the experts on it, but I believe from the anecdotal evidence that he took a lot more votes away from George Bush than he took away from Bill Clinton, and I haven’t seen anything to the contrary. And he diverted an awful lot of attention. On just the very story I told you of the debate where George Bush is looking at his watch because he’s trying to stop the filibustering Ross Perot—And he definitely was the target in the debates. So I don’t know.

Young

It’s just very important to hear the thinking of the people, and the fact that you’re still thinking about it means you’re going to have a lot of company. Because this is a question that we try to shed some light on.

Brady

What’s another theory out there? Give me another one.

Young

Oh, I don’t know.

Masoud

For George Bush losing? The fact that he was representative of a generation of leaders around the world that were booted out of office—that their time had come. Margaret Thatcher being an example. Sort of, these people—

Young

Helmut Kohl.

Masoud

Helmut Kohl. These people had shepherded us through the Cold War, thank you very much. Now it’s time for new, younger people.

Brady

My very opaque explanation—What do you think mine is? I’ve given you a bunch of them. I have one, I’m just curious to know—have I stated it?

Masoud

Your theory of why . . ..

Brady

Yes. What is it?

Young

You’re asking us to get—

Brady

I’ve said it. I think I’ve said it. I’m just curious to know if I’ve said it clearly enough, or if I’ve obscured your thinking of it.

Young

You are thinking that perhaps it was just people just got tired, it was time for a change.

Brady

You got it. Exactly true. They wanted to turn the page. I think it’s the public. I think it’s the media. And I saw it firsthand in the coverage and lack of enthusiasm in people who should have been enthusiastic. A lot of things—now there was certainly the base that was enthusiastic. The events I described were very well attended.

Young

That’s sort of looking at it in terms of Republican time in the White House. The twelve years.

Brady

Some people call that—I don’t share this view at all, but some call it three Reagan terms, and that sort of thing.

Young

Yes, but I mean it was just one Bush term.

Brady

I’m painfully aware of that.

Young

And it wasn’t a repeat or replay, it seems to me, by a long shot, of the Reagan years.

Brady

Well I’ll describe it to you again but I think it ties in a little bit to what you’re saying. My theory and yours are not totally inconsistent because it was happening worldwide and it was just . . ..

Riley

The health thing is often raised.

Brady

Yes, I was wondering if somebody would bring that up.

Riley

Do you have any insight on that?

Brady

Well, not insight. But after he had the original diagnosis of Graves’ disease, it certainly took time for him to adjust to his medication, and I don’t think he’s ever denied that. And there was a time where his energy level was perhaps different, but when he got down to the campaign itself, and then again it may have started too late, the campaign itself. But he was very engaged—I was with him, so I’m speaking personally, he’d do eighteen events a day. He’d be dog tired at the end of the day. He wanted this badly. He was working like crazy.

Riley

But did it—The great mystery of campaigns is you’re never quite sure when they begin. And I’ve seen this more in the state races that I’ve watched, where people are trying to time their entry. And quite frequently you’ll see people waiting too long to get in for whatever reason, either for the financial concern, or external events happen that are completely beyond their control to make it impossible for them to step in at a particular point in time. And so it could very well be that if he’s not feeling well eight to twelve months in advance, that that’s the crucial window—that’s when the push has to be made. I don’t know.

Brady

Yes, I don’t remember exactly the timing, but I believe he was over any medication adjustment by the time he would have needed to focus on New Hampshire. The other one I’ll just mention, so that I don’t ignore it, was on the last weekend before the election, on a Friday before, Judge Walsh released a note that some suggested implied that President Bush had known more in advance with respect to the Iran-Contra. I was with him on that Friday when that came out. The note itself was nothing new; it was in a Senate report that was publicly available. But the media—And I’m not blaming them, just stating a fact. I think it was on a Larry King show that Friday night, and George Stephanopoulos was allowed to call in and ask about it, in the middle of the show. And I don’t think he randomly called either. It’s just a guess, but I think he probably—

Young

It couldn’t possibly be rigged.

Brady

Of course not. But anyway he called in, so then the whole rest of the show was devoted to that. And then all the news Saturday and the rest of the weekend was as well.

Masoud

The President wasn’t on Larry King.

Brady

He was, yes.

Masoud

Stephanopoulos called in when the President was on the show?

Brady

Aren’t I right?

Riley

Yes, that’s absolutely correct. And it’s also true that evidently Clinton read him the riot act after he did it.

Brady

All I know is that then Saturday it dominated the news media and Sunday morning we went on a show, a Sunday morning one-on-one interview show.

Masoud

Russert? Brinkley? No?

Brady

No. Anyway, we went on a show. It was a dramatic moment—when you talk to Marlin, talk to him about it—and the interviewer started on the Iran-Contra and spent the whole time on Iran-Contra, up to the break. The President and interviewer then sat totally stone-silent through the whole break. After the break, they spent the balance of the show totally 100 percent on Iran-Contra. And the President, you could see smoke coming out of his ears. You know you work your entire life in public service, all the issues during his presidency, this is not a new item. Although I can understand the press saying, well this new thing happened on Friday and creates a new occasion for questions, but the whole thing was mostly disproportionate.

And Marlin, at that point, decided no more shows. The election was Tuesday and we did lots and lots of events. But I will say, to the extent that the President was coming back and might have made a run at it on election day—that stopped it. Not because there was anything new, or anything that interesting, but because there was no way to get any other message out, it totally dominated the news for those days. So whatever momentum he had to come back, just stopped, just flat stopped.

Young

Well, what’s Eisenhower speaking about, that looking back and Monday morning quarterbacking. I think it was Eisenhower who said in response to some such discussion as this, on the subject he said, Well hindsight is great, but foresight’s a hell of a lot better. With that we can—do you want to have some final words?

Brady

No, just express appreciation for the opportunity to do this. And I’m going to encourage my colleagues to participate and you’ve given me a list of some people to talk to and I certainly will do that.

Young

I would appreciate that and I will certainly follow up on it. And I want to express our appreciation for your willingness to do this. I know it’s volunteer, we think it’s in a good cause and it does disrupt your schedule, and I do appreciate and understand all of that. I think people not yet born will also appreciate this effort. And I’ll see you again on the Reagan—

Brady

I shouldn’t have said that.