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Young Republican Interview

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I thought BlogCritics Politics readers might like to get some inside scoop on what it is like to do politics for a living in Washington, DC.

Mr. P is a political appointee in a Bush Administration cabinet department. He works on important policy matters and frequently meets with the Secretary. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for Carpe Bonum.

Tell us a little about yourself: age, marital status, where you live, etc.

I am 27 years old and live with my girlfriend in Alexandria, VA.

What do you do for entertainment?

On most evenings my entertainment is limited to the queue of programs in TiVo®, particularly CSI, NYPD, Lost, Law & Order, West Wing, Joan of Arcadia, and Good Eats. I also make time for reading, live theatre, concerts (Recently: Muse), movies, and fine dining.

Aren’t you a little young to be a Republican?

Not really. Age is not as big a determinant as other factors, and 45% of 18-29 year old voters voted to reelect President Bush. I fit the demographic pattern for males, Caucasians, my income bracket, people who work full-time jobs, and political conservatives. The most important factor that is rarely tracked by statisticians is upbringing.

Why are you a conservative? How did your political views develop?

I am not sure exactly how or when my political views developed. I was first aware of my political identity when I joined a debate society in high school and the other students labeled me a conservative Republican. Mom and Dad rarely expressed their partisan affiliation but we did discuss contemporary issues, such as taxation, national defense, and affirmative action. Conservative ideas have always made most sense to me.

What was your college education like?

My college education was not typical. I began as an acting student at the University of Illinois, but graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of San Diego after nearly seven years of study. I stayed busy during college. I interned with San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray, studied at Oxford University for two terms, studied in Mexico to observe the presidential election won by Vicente Fox, and worked full-time at a restaurant.

How did you get involved in the Bush Administration?

Landing my job in the Bush Administration was serendipitous.

I decided that it would be fun to spend my winter break volunteering for the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) in Washington, DC, so I began calling their offices as soon as the election was concluded. After a number of attempts, I reached a woman who advised me to show up at the headquarters the day after Christmas at 7:30 am to help manage the volunteer office. I immediately bought a plane ticket and headed east.

As Deputy Volunteer Coordinator, I staffed PIC offices over the next three weeks. The head of President-elect Bush’s motorcade arrived in my office 10 days before the inauguration demanding volunteers because two had not shown up. By then, all of the PIC offices were fully staffed and I had sent all of our excess volunteers home, so I decided to fill one of the motorcade slots myself. I spent the next 10 days driving Bush’s senior staff van to meetings and inaugural events around town.

After the inauguration, I returned to San Diego and prepared to graduate but within a couple days the head of the motorcade called me and invited me back to Washington, DC, to interview in the administration.

Ever met any famous political figures? What are they like?

I have met many famous political figures. When first meeting political figures they are almost always charming; politicians succeed by making good first impressions. For instance, I had a fairly long conversation with Senator Kennedy at an event. He knew that I worked in the Bush administration and so he studiously avoided politics. He was engaged, insightful and funny. Except in rare moments, most horror stories concerning political figures come from people who know them well. Many politicians are abusive to their staffs.

I find the behavior of famous political figures’ staffs to be more variable and much more interesting. The worst I have ever experienced was Senator Clinton’s staff. I cannot share the details but I had to work closely with her staff at an event and I found several of them to be hostile, rude, abusive and manipulative.

Who is the most influential person no one has ever heard of?

I will answer a slightly different question: “Who is the most influential person no one outside ‘the Beltway’ has ever heard of?”

John D. Graham is the Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). According to the OIRA website, Dr. Graham’s responsibilities include “coordination of regulatory review, paperwork reduction, statistical policy and information policy in the Federal government.” This may not sound like much but it means that Dr. Graham must approve every regulation that is implemented by the federal government. He has tremendous power to sculpt regulatory policy and control the burdens that the government imposes upon the American public.

I find that he is well-known in Washington, DC, but virtually unknown around the country.

Don’t you agree it’s a bit unmanly to like cats?

I think it is unmanly to ask leading questions. But to answer the question, it is manly, and quintessentially American, to maximize the utility of all things in nature including household pets. I may prefer dogs, but I have learned to appreciate the unique companionship of cats.

Yeowch. Good one, P! I’m going to need a Band-Aid for those claw marks on my cheek…

Thanks for your answers, and your public service.

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About Carpe Bonum

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks cb, fascinating stuff – in the in crowd

  • Well I was about to be impressed – until I saw it was anonymous. Just like in all media, anonymous sources suck – and there better be a good reason for doing it. There is not always and there isn’t in this case.

    He couldn’t say that info on the record? Where’s the spine, man?

  • Spines are not something very common in Washington — and those that show they have half a spine are usually crushed in some sinister way. Ask John McCain — he learned of it first hand in the South Carolina 2000 GOP Presidential Primary.

  • Eric Olsen

    perhaps, but I’d rather hear someone talking freely anonymously than hear canned crap for attribution.

  • cb

    It’s a fair cop about the anonymous source. But he is new to being published on the web (as am I), and is erring on the side of caution.

    For myself, I don’t especially mind if someone finds out who I am — my emails are signed with my real name — but I don’t want to be too easy to find in Google.

    Not yet anyway.

    Thanks for reading the interview.

  • But we don’ t know it’s not all anon bull. I could put up a post about Mrs Q, a former White house sous chef – and make it all up. George Bush Senior REALLY did like broccoli, he was just playing to his base. Barbara Bush couldn’t get enough pickled onions and pigs feet. Jenna and Barbara downed 30 shooters in 40 minutes etc etc – as pre-teens.

    This guy is naming some names and none of it is flattering when he does.

    Can anyone say paid off? The point is, who knows.

    Especially on blogs, where there is no editing process, making it up is a lot easier than working at it.

    Credibility baby.

    And if its canned crap, well, there’s that spine thing again.

  • cb

    Actually, the only unflattering thing he said was about Sen. Clinton’s staff. He didn’t name names in that comment.

    I thought the comment about Sen. Kennedy was rather nice. And the comment about Graham is easily verified.

    I can assure you P was not paid off to say anything in the interview. But since I am not readily identified either, that assurance will (correctly) still be crap to you.

    Like I said, it’s a fair cop. Readers should definitely consider the source when evaluating the statements.

  • Eric Olsen

    I see it as an entertaining “celebrity interview” with th eposition rather than the person being the celebrity. It’s funny and almost a parody of the form.

  • Maybe he didn’t want it known that he liked cats

  • Aaman said:

    Maybe he didn’t want it known that he liked cats

    Yep, I think that’s really it. Who wouldn’t be embarassed to let such a thing out!

  • In fairness, I should point out that my comments about Senator Clinton’s staff contradict the venerable New Yorker, which on October 13, 2003, published an article by Elizabeth Kolbert who reported the following assessment of her staff:

    “‘People thought, Well, gee, she’s the First Lady, she’s probably
    going to be very insulated,’ Garry Douglas, the president of the
    Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, who worked with her on
    the project, told me. ‘But not only does she take our phone calls-on
    occasion she calls us.’ Douglas also said that he was ‘remarkably
    impressed’ with Clinton’s staff, an assessment that I heard repeated
    from many sources.”

    At least the New Yorker cooberated their anonymous sources with an
    attributable person.

    Mr. P

  • Eric Olsen

    how does one “cooberate”? would that be chastisement delivered in a soft lulling voice?

  • RJ

    Hey! I like cats!

  • Hey Eric, at least we know that Dubya isn’t the only member of the administration who needs to get Hooked on Phonics!

  • I believe getting ‘hooked on phonics’ is the root source of the whole malapropism issue, because English sure isn’t a phonetic language.

    As for the interview, I found it mildly insightful. It’s like a snapshot of where I might have been at 27 if after working on the Hil in my early 20sl I’d decided not to flee in revulsion back to academia.


  • CB – Anonymous or not, I’ll be delighted to read any and all further dealings inside the beltway.

    My most important takeaway from this interview is the way in which Mr. P landed his job in DC. He prepared by leading a varied and interesting life, he hung around, he was assertive at the right time, and then got lucky. As far as I can see, that is the path to success for the Average Joe.

    As a Varied Joe myself (academic librarian, writer, editor) I take heed and delight in success stories.

    Eric Berlin
    Dumpster Bust: Miracles from Mind Trash

  • Anthony Grande

    “Aren’t you a little young to be a Republican?”

    Who is 27! I beat him by 12 years!

  • Anthony Grande

    This is a great story! I hope mine can be similar in 10 years.