the public servant
The official student publication of the Bush School of Government and Public Service V O L U M E 1 2 , N U M B E R 3 , M A R C H
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A student publication of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University
Bush School Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Gulf War Ambassador Larry Napper, Senior Lecturer and Ambassador-in-Residence On January 20, the Bush School and Scowcroft Institute hosted the largest and highest profile event in the history of the Bush School commemorating the 20th anniversary of the beginning of military operations to liberate Kuwait from occupation by Saddam Hussein’s army. Before an audience of 3,800 in Reed Arena, President George Bush, ‘41, and his 1991 war cabinet, Vice President Quayle, Secretary of State James Baker, Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney, JCS Chairman General Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and USMC General (ret) Walter Boomer reflected on Desert Shield/Desert Storm and the policy process that managed the conflict. They were joined by a high-level delegation from the State of Kuwait headed by the Envoy of the Amir of Kuwait, H.E. Sheikh Ahmad Humood Jaber Al-Sabah. Joining in the discussion with the American Principals on stage was H.E. Muhammad Abdullah Abulhassan, Advisor of His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait and former Ambassador of Kuwait to the United Nations. The event received nation-wide media coverage, including as the centerpiece of the NBC Nightly News with Brian
The day of Gulf War commemoration also featured an academic symposium, featuring authors contributing to a forthcoming book sponsored by the Scowcroft Institute and published by Oxford University Press. Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War, provides scholars, policymakers, and journalists the opportunity to reconsider the 1990-1991 Gulf War in its broader historical context, examining its root causes and consequences still felt a generation later. The book, to be edited by the Bush School’s Jeffrey A. Engel, features contributions by Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations; Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair of the University of Maryland; Michael Gordon, Chief Military Correspondent, The New York Times; Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor War Studies, King’s College, London; and Jeffrey Engel, Kruse ‘52 Professor, Bush School. Bush School Dean Ryan Crocker will write a forward for the book, and the January 20th symposium was chaired by Professor Charles Hermann, and joined by the University of Kuwait’s Dr. Abdul-Resa al Assiri. n
The Public Servant 2010-2011 Staff List
Rafael Gomes, Editor-in-Chief Michael Walter, Assistant Editor Casey Braswell, Layout Editor Kymberly Reynolds, Treasurer Vanessa Toufaily, Calendar Coordinator Dinorah Sanchez, Survey Guru Adrian Calcaneo, Cartoonist Editors: Anne Hierholzer, Barrett Brown, Chloe Stark, Craig Welkener, Heather Gregory, Kristin Simpson, Ken Surgenor, Jessica Yeo Photographers: William Mitchell, Jeff Willey, Ken Surgenor, Paige Ericsson The views expressed in this publication are those of bush school students, not necessarily those of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service.
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Where Have All the Reporters Gone? Dori Enderle MPIA ‘11
On October 30, somewhere between 10 and 6,000,000,000 people (depending on your source) gathered on the National Mall for Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. I was lucky enough to be one of them. Why were we there? Ask each and you’d probably get 200,000 (or 6 billion) different views. But here’s why I rallied.
I’ve become convinced that 24-hour news networks are more harmful than helpful. It seems like a great idea: turn on the TV, anytime, day or night, and learn what’s going on in the world. But the reality is quite different. They don’t report. They scream, they pontificate, they campaign. I suppose they sometimes report: as one rally sign aptly declared, “If it weren’t for CNN I would have no idea what’s happening on Twitter.” Glenn Beck says that Stewart was “co-opted by liberals.” Bill Maher claims the opposite, that the Rally was too bipartisan: “Keith Olbermann is … not the equivalent of Glenn Beck. One reports facts and the other one is very close to playing with his poop.” While I’ll admit that the Rally-goers were overwhelmingly liberal, the message was bipartisan. And Olbermann’s (and Maher’s for that matter) rants about the right are just as detrimental as Beck’s ranting about the left. Their shouting about what the Rally was or wasn’t just proves the point: it’s not about what actually happens, it’s about how the media reports – no, wait – distorts it. While yellow journalism is not a new fad, in the THE PUBLIC SERVANT | 2
STUDENT OPINION era of 24-hour news networks it seems we’re surrounded by it. Many critics argue if you don’t like what’s reported, use your remote. But what channel can I change it to? While in Paris this summer for my internship, I gathered news from the Associated Press or CNN International. Actual facts were reported, not just opinions. Stepping off the plane back home, I was surrounded by TVs showing Fox, HLN, MSNBC – each screaming about the other’s reporting, creating a selfperpetuating cycle of polarizing punditry. I’m all for free speech. I just wish there was a channel for the people in my demographic – the ones who want unbiased news. It’s an insult to our intelligence that we’re told what to think, not given the facts and allowed to decide for ourselves. So that’s why I rallied. And that’s why most of the people I met were there, too. I’m not going to pretend that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart doesn’t add to the problem. But the Rally to Restore Sanity did, for one day in October, bring like-minded people together to protest the fear-mongering of political pundits. To me, Stewart said it best: “The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker…. and perhaps eczema.” n
Peter Orszag at the Bush School Mosbacher Institute
Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during 2009-2010 was featured as the speaker for the 2011 ConocoPhillips White House Lecture Series on Feb. 23 at the Bush School. Orszag’s presentation at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center was hosted by the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy, which is part of the Bush School of Government and Public Service. In conjunction with his presentation, Peter Orszag received the first “Mosbacher Institute Good Governance Award” for his leadership at the OMB during a period of great economic turmoil. The award was presented by Prof. James M. Griffin, director of the Mosbacher Institute. Peter Orszag highlighted that he was especially happy in receiving the good governance award from the Bush School. The reason was the 1990 budget agreement signed by President George H. W. Bush. Orszag praised 41’s bold decision by saying that “it was the right thing to do at the time”, even though it had a negative political impact on his presidency. Following his lecture, Dr. Orszag joined a panel discussion on the topic of “Deficit Reduction: What Are the Options?” which addressed the fiscal and budgetary decisions faced by policymakers. The panel also included Dr. Lori Taylor, from the Bush School of Government, Dennis Jansen of Texas A&M University’s Department of Economics, and George Zodrow of Rice University, editor of the National Tax Journal. Prior to assuming his post at the OMB under President Barack Obama, Orszag served as the director of the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush and was a senior advisor on the Council of Economic Advisors under President Clinton. He was also a senior fellow and deputy director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, where he directed the Hamilton Project. n
Three Reasons to Make the Decision to Read Decision Points Phil York MPSA ‘12
If given a chance to interview President George W. Bush, what questions would you ask? Imagine if you can ask him anything from the Iraq War, No Child Left Behind, Hurricane Katrina, and even intimate details of his personal life. In fact, he responded with great transparency to those issues and many more in his book, Decision Points. If you have not already done so, you should read Decision Points because it is an honest, thorough and balanced account of the Bush 43 presidency from the key character’s perspective. Decision Points is honest. In a matter of fact style President
Bush provides a fresh perspective on his decision-making rationale which was first shaped by significant personal events. As you engage in this conversation you will: • Enjoy images of a young baseball player whose passion for the game compensates for his lack of talent. • Laugh and later celebrate as an awkward Texas boy courts a beautiful southern bell who becomes his wife (President Bush says this was his most important decision).
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BOOK REVIEW continued from Book Review, pg. 3
• Celebrate as a future leader breaks an addiction that, if left unbroken, could prevent his rise to the Oval Office. • Learn about the humility reflected in the author’s realization that some of his key decisions were simply wrong as time unfolded. Decision Points is thorough. President Bush documents his journey from childhood to the White House and to the joyous “after life” after the 2008 Inauguration of President Obama. The book follows a simple format: Mr. Bush recognizes a problem; he analyzes the available courses of action; he prays and contemplates about the ideal course of action; and he executes his plan.
every time I thought about it. I still do”. The WMD blunder is balanced with democratic development. Within that same chapter, Bush writes about how Iraq was moving towards a brighter democracy that brings hope to other Middle Eastern states. When addressing the topic of Hurricane Katrina, Bush laments the constitutional nightmare that prevented him from acting without first attaining permission from Louisiana Governor Blanco, who refused to cooperate in the critical days after the hurricane. To make matters worse, cries of racism followed the storm. President Bush cites rapper Kanye West’s NBC telethon statement: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”. Accusations of racism were spurred further by Jesse Jackson as he compared the New Orleans Convention Center to “the hull of a slave ship” (Bush 325). After describing how his family life and political career are far from that of a racist, Bush writes that “the suggestion that I was a racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all-time low…it was the worst moment of my presidency”.
Decision Points is balanced. Although the decision-making format is clear, the consequences of the decision are not obvious until after the decision is made. Mr. Bush takes responsibility for the positive and negative consequences of his decisions. The failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq and the debouched government response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are among the darkest moments in President Bush’s presidency.
Mr. West and Mr. Jackson were unfair in their statements but they were using the images that President Bush allowed his Mr. Bush describes the threat that Saddam Hussein, own staff to portray. Our president adds that he regrets a leader who used weapons of mass destruction, allowing the press core access to Air Force One as it posed to his own country and to the rest of the world. flew over the devastation of Louisiana. “The photo of To address this global threat, Mr. Bush pursued me hovering over the damage suggested I was detached diplomatic negotiations to allow Saddam Hussein from the suffering on the ground…but once the a chance to open Iraq to UN inspectors. According public impression was formed, I couldn’t change it”. to all international intelligence reports, WMDs were located in Iraq and were a threat to the world. President Bush ends his Hurricane Katrina reflections with the positive signs of the rebuilding process. He When no WMDs were found it was “a massive writes that “the most uplifting change of all has come blow to our credibility- my credibility-that would in education. Public schools that were decaying shake the confidence of the American people. No before the storm have reopened as modern facilities, one was more shocked or angry than I was when we with new teachers and leaders committed to reform didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling and results”. With these advancements in mind THE PUBLIC SERVANT | 4
continued from Book Review, pg. 4
President Bush argues that “the true legacy of Katrina will be one of hope”. After an balanced presidency, the dialogue
honest, thorough and discussion of his President Bush ends with a final statement:
“Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t be around to hear it. That’s a decision point only history will reach”. A verdict of President Bush’s presidency will come earlier than he expects. Issues addressed in Decision Points continue to shape the political landscape in Washington. For this reason, the Bush presidency will be judged by those who saw his presidency and awaited his decisions. It is our generation who will issue the first judgment. Regardless of political orientation, neither friend nor foe can fairly place their judgment without first reading this text. n
What the Bush School Means to Me Debe Nwanze MPSA ‘12
I have never been in an environment (until being here at the Bush School) where so many young adults willingly volunteer their services without any foreseeable reward in return. This can be witnessed in the numbers who show up to volunteer at student-organization activities, speaker events, serving as discussion partners for ESL(English as a second language) students, organizing and registering intramural sport groups, or just getting a bunch of interested students together to play a game of touch-rugby on Fridays. This spirit of volunteerism can also be observed in the classroom when students go beyond the assigned readings in a class, and willing share their findings with the rest of the class when called upon. Based on the above, I would infer that it wouldn’t be long before the Dean’s charge of collectively taking the Bush School to the top 15% list of public administration schools in the U.S manifests. And although my class has on occasion been chided for not filling out surveys or not showing up en masse to certain seminars, my long term opinion is that our students possess the wherewithal and finer qualities of noble service and leadership.
In my first semester at the Bush School I remember admiring the monumental size of the buildings, and I thought it reflective of the productivity and caliber of the people who inhabited them. I also got excited when I learned of the frequency with which seminars are held not only in the Bush School but in other departments across the University, allowing students pursue any cross-disciplinary interests they may have. For example, I have attended seminars on moral economics in the school of humanities that had to do with food supply, as well as panel discussions with Sheila Bair, Christina Romer and Sallie Krawcheck who are some of the most influential professionals in the world. I may be unable to provide direct connections to both events, but I could definitely describe connections nonetheless. My economics professor moderated that panel with Ms. Bair, Romer and Krawcheck and I remember being so in awe of her after that event that I promised myself not to interrupt her with questions on my homework outside her office (unless of course I had made an appointment). I felt she deserved all the time she could get to save the world (by that I mean research). I broke that promise as finals approached probably because she has an open door policy, but I still try not to take her time for granted. I see the same appreciation for the opportunity the Bush School provides more in my classmates, some of whom never fail to complete a reading assignment no matter how arduous. I consider the pedagogic style of some professors at the school to be akin to the Socratic Method and in these classes there are no participation points awarded to students for participating in discussions. It is in such classes that you can really measure (in my opinion) the passion students have for the subject matter. It is here that I have seen my peers go over and beyond or as mentioned earlier exhibit a high measure of volunteerism, and it makes me want to do better. This is what my time here at the Bush School has taught me, and I hope to uphold it. n THE PUBLIC SERVANT | 5
Practice Makes Perfect David Arceneaux, MPIA â€˜12
Okay, maybe practice does not always make perfectâ€”but it definitely makes you better. In the same way that a sport or an instrument requires devotion of time and effort into mastering the art, so does investing. All of the intricacies of various investment vessels can seem quite daunting on the surface; bonds, options, stocks, CDs, IRAs and many other options are available to an individual looking to grow their portfolioâ€™s net worth. Undoubtedly, many have been dissuaded from joining the fray because of the overwhelming adversary that is investing. It is a reasonable reaction as well, for why would one wish to be so cavalier with such a precious commodity as their own money?
which can be true, but is not necessarily so. Stocks have outperformed any other asset class over any given 20year period. Simply put, the potential is consistently shown to be worth the risk over the long haul. The good news is that this is but an average based on the major market indices, which can be beaten by an individual investor. Making 10 percent per year for 10 years will make an investment multiply by 2.59 times its original value, or 6.73 times over the course of 20 years. These results are indeed manageable by an individual who is savvy and attentive enough to actively manage their own portfolio. These results cannot be expected from other asset classes, whereas they are entirely feasible in the stock market. It should also be noted that the single most important factor in portfolio growth, regardless of the investment type, is time. Getting involved sooner rather than later will almost certainly create long term benefits for anyone willing to take the leap of faith.
Realizing the great potential that stocks afford an individual, it only makes sense to at least take a test drive with an online stock simulator. As you become more involved and familiar with the market through outside reading and real experience, you may even begin to enjoy the process. A risk-free introduction to the market should better suit the This is easily one of the most common concerns that concerns of many, and it is my hope that many of I have heard since beginning this column: that people you will take advantage of these tools in the future. n do want to be involved, but they are scared of losing their money. Fortunately, there is an option in between doing nothing and being invested. Many online sites, such as Investopedia, offer stock simulators for no charge. These simulators track the prices of stocks in real time, giving you instant feedback as to how your investment strategy would have worked had it been real money; it is an extraordinary way to get the practice that is so essential to successful investing without any of the risk. As you learn about individual stocks and the market as a whole, you will be able to adjust your holdings accordingly with no penalty. For the more prudent individuals out there, this tool is absolutely the best stepping stone into actively managing your own portfolio. There are still notable concerns that many have about the stock market. One of these is that it is too risky, THE PUBLIC SERVANT | 6
President Bush Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom Source: CNN.com
President Barack Obama paid tribute to “the best of who we are and who we aspire to be” in awarding America’s highest civilian honor to former President George H.W. Bush. At a White House ceremony, Obama spoke of why each was receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which the White House said is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” 41 had a public service career that spanned 70 years as a decorated Navy pilot in World War II, a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, CIA director, U.S. envoy to China and vice president before winning the presidential election in 1988, Obama noted. Obama cited Bush’s humility and dedication, saying: “Those of you who know him, this is a gentleman, inspiring citizens to become points of light.” By mentioning words that are well familiar to Bush School Students. 41 explained his motivation to get involved in public life saying that “there wasn’t any single inspiration other than the concept that public service is a noble calling. Worth doing it and worth trying to succeed in it.” n
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