Schlesinger v. Rove — a comparison of Presidential Special Assistants


Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., historian, author and special assistant to President John F. Kennedy died February 28, 2007.
Presidential special assistants fill a unique role in an administration. Presidents choose individuals they believe have the experience, abilities and wisdom necessary to provide guidance during difficult times. A special assistant must share the presidents’ values and his vision for America.

The following is a short comparison of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, with Karl Rove, special assistant to President George W. Bush. I hope that viewing this comparison is as enlightening for you as writing it was for me.

 

 

Schlesinger

Rove

Education

Harvard University, 1938-42

Left following Pearl Harbor, without completing his PHD

University of Utah 1969-71

University of MD — completed half a semester, 1971

George Mason University, 1973-75

University of Texas at Austin, 1977

Never received his bachelor’s degree

War
Experience

Volunteered for combat during WWII, turned down due to bad eyesight; spent 1942-45 in the
Office of War Information, and the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA.

Maintained a student deferment during his semester and a half of college in Utah and MD; lost his deferment just prior to the end of the draft.

Youthful
fame

Won the Pulitzer Prize at 29 for The Age of Jackson, a history of Andrew Jackson’s presidency.

Stole stationary from the offices of a democratic candidate for Illinois state treasurer, used them to produce handbills advertising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing” at the opening of the candidate’s
new campaign headquarters, and distributed the handbills at rock
concerts and homeless shelters.

Significant
Mentor

Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian theologian, proponent of the use of Christian values as a basis for politics and diplomacy, and one of the architects of modern
“just war” theory.

Donald Segretti, a Nixon political operative. Rove worked under Sergretti during Nixon’s campaign, when Segretti obtained letterhead stationary from Democratic presidential candidate Ed Muskie and used it to produce a bogus letter falsely claiming that Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson had fathered an illegitimate child with a 17 year old woman. Segretti was later convicted as a Watergate conspirator.

What he said about his President

“… urbane, objective, analytical, controlled, contained, masterful, a man of perspective…”

“Huge amounts of charisma, swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket, wonderful smile, just charisma – you know, wow!

Other
significant achievements

Wrote twenty books, won two Pulitzer prizes, three national book awards, the Four Freedoms Award and the Paul Peck Award. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1961.

Served as Special Assistant for Latin America affairs and speech writer for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, 1961-64.

Ran George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, including
during the S. Carolina primary, when a whisper campaign falsely claiming that opposing candidate John McCain was mentally unstable, had been a stoolie
during the time he spent in a Vietnamese POW camp, and had fathered a black, illegitimate child.

Rove, a political operative, served Bush as assistant to
the president, deputy chief of staff, and senior adviser.

Rove outdoes his mentor Segretti, giving testimony in the investigation of the Valerie Plame affair, and is not even indicted

Quotation

“If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, and courage. These things are rarely produced by committees. Everything that matters in our intellectual
and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.”

“As people do better, they start voting like Republicans – unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.”

7 thoughts on “Schlesinger v. Rove — a comparison of Presidential Special Assistants

  1. blipey

    Quite nice; I loved this. Tom does do a nice job of tidying up the charts and all, but what really strikes me about this is that none of it is too hard to see. If people would just take a little time to look and listen to the world around them, much of this is obvious. It’s truly a wonder that people don’t see it.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Juggling Takes Practice « UDreamOfJanie

  3. Tom Joaquin Post author

    The Bush administration is ducks in the barrel. The political wing seems to run everything, so Rove’s qualifications are ideal.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Wood

    Indeed, JanieBelle. Tom has a way of clarifying and simplifying that which would be missed by lots of other folks. It’s a special talent, I’d guess, and one I’m glad to see used for the good of the blogosphere đŸ™‚

    Reply

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