The loyalty inspired by President Bush among White House staff — described in Byron York’s piece — extends far beyond the confines of the White House, encompassing some of the furthest reaches of the administration.
The president makes over 3,000 original nominations/appointments to executive branch positions. I’ve had an opportunity to meet a few hundred of those nominated/appointed by President Bush. Personally, some of them had sharp disagreements with certain aspects of the president’s policies (immigration reform probably topped the list) but I never heard anyone express anything but deep admiration, loyalty and respect for the president, both as a man and as a leader. If there was any negative refrain, it was borne of the widespread frustration that the president didn’t do more to defend himself and his policies. Nonetheless, most anticipate that history will assess George W. Bush more favorably than today’s media and polls — provided history isn’t skewed by agenda-driven scholarship.
Bush-bashing is cheap, easy sport. Everyone seems to do it, even Republicans. But there remain some quarters where it’s not recommended. For example, when I lived near Quantico for awhile, I encountered a sizeable contingent of no-nonsense square-jawed heirs to Chesty Puller who didn’t take kindly to disparaging comments about this particular commander-in- chief.
At a National Review event a couple of years ago, John Bolton remarked that while in his first job in the Reagan administration he (Bolton) made a daily effort to remind himself that he was a Reagan appointee, and comported himself accordingly. I understood that to mean that he acted not with blind, sycophantic allegiance, but with a fidelity to the president’s objectives consistent with the Constitution and a reasoned appreciation of the president’s character. Not all presidents evoke that kind of commitment and appreciation from their staffs — after all, Washington’s probably the most cynical place on Earth. Byron’s column is noteworthy for that reason alone.