The Ways of Washington

Washington is a town where proximity is power. On that score, there can be few people more powerful than the president’s “butt boy”—think Charlie in the West Wing.  The current occupant of the job, Blake Gottesman, has drunk his full from the well of power for the time being and is quitting the White House ...

608487_Gottesman5.jpg
608487_Gottesman5.jpg

Washington is a town where proximity is power. On that score, there can be few people more powerful than the president’s “butt boy”—think Charlie in the West Wing. 

The current occupant of the job, Blake Gottesman, has drunk his full from the well of power for the time being and is quitting the White House to follow in his boss’s footsteps at Harvard Business School. There’s a mild stink about this because the chap has only completed one year of college and you’re meant to have an undergrad degree to go to HBS. But I expect that he has learnt more from his time at White House than he would have from completing his college degree and, frankly, anyone with a recommendation from the president is going to be cut a little slack. (Rumor has is that Yale’s B-school is also not immune to the power of a presidential letter.)

Anyway the super-pricey National Journal has a great profile of Gottesman this week. Turns out, the job is darn well paid, $95,000 a year and that there’s quite a little network of former personal aides. It also has this hilarious story about Bill Clinton: “On a December evening last year, Clinton was in London when he learned that Engskov [Clinton’s former personal aide] was working as a barista, or coffee-server, at a local Starbucks -- part of the company ethos that employees learn the business from the ground up. The store's manager and the young executive suddenly heard someone banging on the window. "Kris, what the heck are you doing?" Clinton cried, before ducking behind the bar to serve coffee to startled patrons and to pose for snapshots with the staff.”

Washington is a town where proximity is power. On that score, there can be few people more powerful than the president’s “butt boy”—think Charlie in the West Wing. 

The current occupant of the job, Blake Gottesman, has drunk his full from the well of power for the time being and is quitting the White House to follow in his boss’s footsteps at Harvard Business School. There’s a mild stink about this because the chap has only completed one year of college and you’re meant to have an undergrad degree to go to HBS. But I expect that he has learnt more from his time at White House than he would have from completing his college degree and, frankly, anyone with a recommendation from the president is going to be cut a little slack. (Rumor has is that Yale’s B-school is also not immune to the power of a presidential letter.)

Anyway the super-pricey National Journal has a great profile of Gottesman this week. Turns out, the job is darn well paid, $95,000 a year and that there’s quite a little network of former personal aides. It also has this hilarious story about Bill Clinton: “On a December evening last year, Clinton was in London when he learned that Engskov [Clinton’s former personal aide] was working as a barista, or coffee-server, at a local Starbucks — part of the company ethos that employees learn the business from the ground up. The store’s manager and the young executive suddenly heard someone banging on the window. “Kris, what the heck are you doing?” Clinton cried, before ducking behind the bar to serve coffee to startled patrons and to pose for snapshots with the staff.”

I doubt we’ve heard the last of Gottesman. For one thing, in another example of life imitating art, he’s the former boyfriend of Jenna Bush. Secondly, Karl Rove seems to have plans for him, telling National Journal, “he’s going to succeed with startling results and enormous accomplishments.”

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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