Working in the White House is still work

At this morning’s chapel service at The Cambridge School of Dallas, Harriett Miers spoke to the students at the Faith and Culture Nobility in Public Service lecture. Ms. Miers is an attorney at Locke Lord and former White House Counsel to President George W. Bush. In 2005, she was nominated by Bush to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, but bipartisan opposition led President Bush to withdraw the nomination.miers_harriet_newpg

Believe what you want about the Bush administration and their intentions, the people who serve in administrations at senior levels give up a lot. Not only do they forgo income from their typically successful careers they leave, they also languish in typically poor working conditions, long hours, low pay, and subject themselves to scrutiny that is beyond what many of us can imagine. Ms. Miers is one of those people. She left a top position at a top law firm to work in the basement of the white house to be the President’s secretary.

During her chapel address , in which she spoke about the importance of a “culture of service,” Harriet Miers described the culture of the White House when she served President George W. Bush. She noted two examples. “We were expected to support each other. There was not to be a climate of competitiveness, but mutual encouragement.” And, in her initial role as Staff Secretary, in which she provided President Bush’s daily briefings, she was expected to produce his daily binder with absolutely no mistakes, including typos. Why a focus on something as small as typos? Because “President Bush was convinced that if you are careless in the small things, you will be careless in the big things.”