I was surprised while reading the Washington Post earlier this month to find an article about my old colleague from the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Pete Wehner. Pete and I were co-editors, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Marin Strmecki, of Promise or Peril: The Strategic Defense Initiative, which was published in the fall of 1986, just before I headed off to graduate school in London. Pete later left EPPC to join the staff of William Bennett, and he stayed with Bennett for a good many years after that.
Although we haven't been in touch with each other for more than a decade, I knew that Pete worked at the White House from a reference to him in Peggy Noonan's book, When Character Was King (about Ronald Reagan). What I didn't know was what a dream job he has in the Bush Administration.
According to the Post ("Resident Thinker Given Free Rein In White House," December 13), Pete heads up the "White House Office of Strategic Initiatives (or the Office of Strategery, as it is known inside the building after a "Saturday Night Live" skit spoofing the president's mangling of the English language). The OSI was [Karl]Rove's idea, created shortly after President Bush was elected in 2000. It is the smallest unit in the Rove empire, with six employees, and represents the closest thing the White House has to an in-house think tank."
Imagine -- being paid to work at the White House and all you have to do is read books and articles and think about what they mean and how they might influence public policy.
The only question remaining: Does the Bush Administration pay attention to anything Pete Wehner (or anyone else in the Strategery division) thinks about?
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