Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Gatekeepers

   BOOK REVIEW:  Since George Washington, presidents have depended on the advice of key confidants. But is wasn't until the twentieth century that the White House chief of staff became the second most powerful job in government. Unelected and unconfirmed, the chief serves at the whim of the president, hired and fired by him alone. He is the president's closest advisor and the person he depends on to execute his agenda. He decides who gets to see the president, negotiates with Congress, and--most crucially--enjoys unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. When the president makes a life-and-death decision, often the chief of staff is the only other person in the room. Each chief can make or break an administration.
   Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity, whose members have included Rahm Emanuel, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, and Donald Rumsfeld. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker and Panetta skillfully managed the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, ensuring their reelections--and, conversely, how Jimmy Carter never understood the importance of a chief, crippling his ability to govern. From Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the Iraq War, Whipple shows us how the chief of staff can make the difference between success and disaster.

    MY REVIEW:  I found this to be an interesting book. It covers the chiefs of staff dating back to that of Richard Nixon, who, as I understood it, was the first or at least near the first president to have an official chief of staff. There were a few presidents after him who decided to forgo that position, but their presidencies suffered for it. Having someone take care of the less-pressing political issues and monitor the president's schedule and those who get to see him at any time appeared to be a help to the presidency.
   The introduction to this book details a meeting of several previous chiefs of staff to give helpful "tips and tricks of the trade" to Rahm Emanuel as he prepared to be Obama's chief of staff. The next chapters cover the presidencies of Nixon through Trump.
   Not only did this book give insight to the chief of staff's position and influence, it also aligned the presidents for me and the main points of their reigns.
   One thing I didn't like about the book is the language included in Chris' collected quotes. Surely the quotes can keep their authenticity without such expletives.

I received this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

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