Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- Reportedly, following the replacement of Andy Card as White House Chief of Staff by Joshua Bolten more changes of Administration personnel are expected. Also there are the sudden openings at the White House, namely the vacancy Bolten leaves at the Office of Management and Budget and the need to replace Claude Allen as domestic policy adviser. The problem the president and his staff have is finding replacements with "stature." That is the word used in the media, "stature."

Well I shall admit that finding men and women of stature to take positions in American public life is a problem. I suppose Britney Spears has stature, but having as White House domestic policy adviser a woman with an exposed belly button would be inappropriate, even ridiculous. In the past a president's chief domestic policy adviser arrived at the position with stature, as Allen did not. The most famous was, probably, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who held that position in the Nixon administration early in what was to be Moynihan's long career in public life. Yet, though he was relatively young when he came to the Nixon administration, he was not without stature. He had already served with distinction in the Johnson administration. Before that, as an academic and writer, he was already famous for his learned observations about poverty, the black family, welfare reform and other domestic conditions. When Moynihan moved on the United Nations and then to the Senate, other intellectuals of unquestioned stature were suggested for the office, most notably, Irving Kristol, who was then known as the "godfather" of neoconservatism.

There were in the 1960s and 1970s a lot of relatively young people arriving in government abounding with stature, for instance, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and Jeane Kirkpatrick. Outside of public service, in the realm of public thought, there were plenty of intellectuals of stature. Recall if you will William F. Buckley, Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith or Gore Vidal -- my old pal. Who are their equivalents today? Well, yes, there is Spears and, I guess, Paris Hilton.

I can think of no time in the history of the country when public life was so full of people without stature. The statureless condition exists for Democrats, too. Who were the public figures of stature that came in with the Clinton Administration? True, eventually there was a young woman about the age of Spears and Hilton, but she actually gained her stature in the administration. When she arrived she was no Pat Moynihan or Henry Kissinger.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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