Monday, November 17, 2008

Why You Need To Be Gracious – Always

The Agency Review Teams for the Obama-Biden Transition will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration. The Teams will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in.

The Agency Review Team leads will spearhead the review efforts in their respective departments. For the State Department, Tom Donilon and Wendy Sherman are the designated team leads. A quick biographic notes on the two from the Obama Transition:

Tom Donilon is a partner at the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers and serves on the firm's global governing committee. Tom served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of State during the Clinton Administration. Since leaving the Department he has remained deeply involved in the national security arena. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Strategy Group, the National Security Advisory Group to the Congressional Leadership, the Brookings Institution Board of Trustees, the Miller Center of Public Affairs Governing Council, and the Trilateral Commission.

I probably should note that when Warren Christopher came to State, he brought with him a trusted group of associates to the Seventh Floor including his Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Tom Donilon. Donilon oversaw the Secretary's schedule, paper-flow, speeches and media contacts. Donilon who had been a senior official on Clinton's 1992 campaign also helped Christopher with the transition.

Wendy R. Sherman is a Principal of The Albright Group LLC and of Albright Capital Management LLC. Ambassador Sherman served as Counselor and chief troubleshooter for the State Department, as well as Special Advisor to President Clinton and Policy Coordinator on North Korea. Sherman is a recognized expert on national security issues and serves as a frequent analyst in major news outlets. She was recently appointed by Congressional Leadership to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.

The U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission has this to add: From 1993 to 1996, Ms. Sherman served Secretary of State Warren Christopher as Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, where she directed the legislative efforts of the State Department with the U.S. Congress. Among other issues, she led the successful efforts to obtain the funding for Russia and the newly-independent states after the break-up of the Soviet Union and support for the Dayton accords.

From July 1997 through January 2001, she was the Counselor of the Department of State, with rank of Ambassador, appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate. Ms. Sherman served then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as a special advisor and consultant on major issues of foreign policy, provided guidance to the Department and undertook special assignments. At the same time, she was the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State and North Korea Policy Coordinator.

* * * I’ve never worked for either of these guys but you will note that both were in the government primarily in the 90’s during the Clinton Era. There’s a lesson here for all working bees. You need to be gracious always – really. No need to call the band for surviving Ambassador X in country Y. No need for grand parties at final take off for that absolute kiss ass director. Yes, even if you may despise your politically appointed boss; yes, even if the one you have is not only a screamer but also, you know, hollow - you still need to be gracious.

Brian Aggeler: State Magazine, September 2008

It is irrelevant whether you are leaving or they are leaving. For one thing, it's only work. For another - it's a small world out there; the State Department believe it or not - is an even smaller world. We're all practically kissing cousins brushing shoulders in the famous corridors of Foggy Bottom and in all chancery corridors overseas. I know - ain't that weird!? I know somebody who knows you - our own three degrees of "corridor reputation." But I digress ....

In any case, like The Terminator says, “I’ll be back.” That could mean some familiar old faces from the Bush II Era shepherding the transition process in 2012 or 2016 at Foggy Bottom. Or some may actually return to stay for oh, four- eight years – it depends. The thing is, you just never know who will turn up every four years or so. Which I think is actually quite charming, kind of like opening gifts in a holiday that occurs every four years. You know you're going to get a gift, you just don't quite know what to expect.

Uhm, don’t worry about me; I’m always gracious except when I’m not.

1 comment:

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: