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Posted at 11:13 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

My secret, definitive (and unpublished) profile of Gene Sperling!

By Matt Miller

In the summer and fall of 1999, while a senior editor at The New Republic, I worked on a profile of Gene Sperling, then the chairman of the National Economic Council, a position to which President Obama is appointing him again. I'd known, worked with and closely observed Gene during my stint as a senior adviser at the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995, though we were not personally close. I thought Sperling's journey during the Clinton years was an ideal way to tell the story of the possibilities and limits of progressive policy in an era of divided government.

Sperling cooperated with the profile in a series of long interviews over several months. To my surprise and dismay, TNR rejected the original, 5,300-word draft for being "too favorable" to its subject and instead ran only a sharply truncated and lobotomized version. This reaction seemed emblematic of an editorial reflex I still don't understand, perhaps because I came to journalism after working in business and government. Having served in a White House, I can't help but try to empathize with those who serve in senior roles, and it's always struck me as odd that journalists are supposed to pretend they don't admire certain public figures even as they honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses and render a verdict on their actions.

Anyway, reading the piece now, over a decade later as Sperling takes the helm at the NEC again, I believe it stands up well as both a story of the man and a study of a situation that is (again) bound to frustrate progressive hopes in the years ahead. Since a writer naturally never wants anything on which he worked so hard to go to waste, I'm delighted to share the original version for those looking to better understand the evolving White House team. You can find the piece here. Thanks, President Obama, for making the piece
relevant again.

By Matt Miller  | January 7, 2011; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Miller  | Tags:  Matt Miller  
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Your long profile from 1999 on Sperling
brings back memory of Clinton administration. I am impressed with your incisive profile. I was losing hope for Obama administration, but now I see a glimmer of hope with Sperling on board.

Posted by: jaque | January 7, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

But let us remember the role he played. The post was vital under Rubin, but it became an absolute nothing job when Rubin became Secretary of Treasury. Sperling's role was just to salute and go along. The question is who has power now. Probably Goolsbee.

Posted by: jhough1 | January 7, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Another Clinton era retread?
So the country is now being run by a large handful of Clinton ex-aides and ex-cabinet members headed by a guy who was getting them all coffee the first time they were there.

I am not comforted by these appointments.

I know, both parties do it, but this admin is really reaching back much more than we have ever seen before.

Posted by: jimbob3 | January 7, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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