Miller Center

Jack Watson

Speakers: Jack Watson, Berry Crawford, Jane Hansen, Bruce Kirschenbaum
Date: April 17, 1981

Jack Watson discusses his experiences as Transition Director, Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs, Cabinet Secretary, and Chief of Staff in the Carter administration. Watson and his aides each begin with the circumstances surrounding their entry into the administration and their key roles and responsibilities during their tenures. A variety of topics, including the transition, the problems of not having a Chief of Staff early in the presidency, the interaction between policy formulation and implementation, and the relationship between the administration and state and local governments, are highlighted in these remarks. For the remainder of the session, the interview team explores several broad themes relevant to Watson's service in the administration. The first area focuses on the White House Staff, including organizational issues (spokes-on-the-wheel concept, effects of Watergate, post-Camp David personnel changes, key officials) and Watson's tenure (becoming chief of staff, role in policymaking, interactions with other White House offices). Next is a discussion of cabinet affairs, with Watson's reflections on cabinet selection, cabinet meetings, and Carter's relationship with cabinet members. Day Two begins with an evaluation of Watson's responsibilities as intergovernmental affairs chief, his role in the 1980 election, and some thoughts on transition management. Finally, Watson gives a retrospective look at the challenges and achievements of the Carter presidency, and how it should be remembered by historians.