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The Moral? Be Nice

Al Kamen
Remember that reception at Brookings a few years ago after that riveting panel on minority rights in Tajikistan? Or maybe it was East Kazakhstan? There was a guy, Todd something-or-other, who was right behind you in the drinks line? The one with the well-cropped brown beard, brown hair, glasses, engaging smile, central casting for a D.C. intelligence/policy guy?

Seemed bright and personable, but he worked for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), someone who clearly wasn't going anywhere. So Todd surely wasn't going to be in any position to help you get that dream job you've always wanted as a deputy assistant secretary of defense or maybe something at the State Department. So, this being Washington, you naturally blew him off and wandered away to talk to someone more important.

Well, this e-mail floated by Tuesday morning from one Todd Rosenblum, who's worked at the CIA, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the State Department.

"I hate to blast email everyone," he writes, "but on very short notice, I have concluded a truly wonderful eight year run as Senator Bayh's national security advisor and on the Senate Intelligence Committee to join the Obama transition team."

That's nice. But wait. "I have joined the White House personnel transition team reporting to the deputy chief of staff. I will be coordinating political appointments for the Departments of State, Defense and the intelligence community and work for Mona Sutphen," the White House deputy chief of staff. "I began this enormous new challenge Sunday, a whole 24 hours after being offered and accepting the position."

So much for your dream job. The moral of this story? In Washington, it's important to be nice to everyone.

Posted at 2:45 PM ET on Nov 26, 2008  | Category:  In the Loop
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Being nice to people is a good general rule anywhere, not just in Washington. And not because a missed opportunity to suck up to some rising star in the bureaucracy somehow diminishes one's career prospects... the inference of this piece (that you ahead in Washington, not by what you know, but who you know) might be true, but if so, its still a terrible commentary about how our society works.

Cocktail party socializing should have nothing whatever to do with selection of powerful officials in our government.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | November 28, 2008 1:32 PM

The other moral to the story is that Obama is committed to putting the best people in the key jobs, not just the best people from his personal network.

Too bad the Bushies didn't know how to put the country's interests ahead of their network's.

Posted by: jrob822 | November 26, 2008 3:28 PM

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