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Longtime Bush aide leaving White House

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June 2, 2007

Dan Bartlett, one of President Bush's most trusted advisers and his longest-serving aide, said Friday he is resigning to begin a career outside of government.

The move was announced on Bartlett's 36th birthday. He has been with Bush for nearly 14 years, from Bush's first campaign as governor of Texas, through two races for the White House and more than six years of a presidency marked by costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an ongoing battle against terrorism.

"His contribution has been immeasurable. I value his judgment and I treasure his friendship," Bush said in a statement. "Since coming to work for me fourteen years ago as I prepared to run for governor, Dan has become a husband and a father. I understand his decision to make his young family his first priority."

As counselor to the president, Bartlett has been at the center of White House decision-making, stepping into the public eye in times of trouble to defend Bush on everything from the unpopular war in Iraq to the government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina and the Republicans' loss of Congress.

He is known as someone who has Bush's ear, one of few people who can give the president bad news or tease him about wearing a brown suit disliked by the White House staff and nicknamed Big Brown.

"He can talk to the president in a candid way, in sort of a family way, that almost nobody else can," White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten told The Associated Press. "He can talk to him about Big Brown, he can joke with him. He's got the Texas roots that make it possible for them to talk about characters in Texas politics or Longhorn football or Texas Rangers' baseball. He's been a good friend of the president as well as a counselor."

With the exception of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation last November, Bartlett's departure marks the first major turnover in Bush's senior staff since a major reshuffling a year ago to reinvigorate the administration and overcome low poll ratings. Within a period of weeks, Bush had named a new chief of staff, treasury secretary, press secretary, CIA chief, budget director, and trade representative. Despite the changes, Bush a year later still remains near record lows in the polls.

Bolten said Bartlett's resignation, effective around July 4, did not signal a new round of changes as Bush moves into the final 600 days of his presidency.

With twin, 3-year-old boys and another son born in January, Bartlett said it was time to pursue a new chapter of his life and "reacquaint myself with my family." His wife, Allyson, had joked that they should name their newborn "Exit Strategy."

Bartlett said he was open to job opportunities and had retained Washington attorney Bob Barnett to help him in the search.

It is a point of pride with Bartlett that he is Bush's longest serving staffer — longer than even political strategist Karl Rove, another Bush confidant whose tenure was interrupted by work as a political consultant. Before teaming up with Bush, Bartlett worked for Rove's Austin-based consulting firm.

Bartlett said he would not write a book about his experiences, would not seek a political career in Texas and would not align himself with any Republican candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

"It's been a roller coaster that seems always to go up," Bartlett said of his White House years. "There have been extremely proud moments to see our country rise up during a time of national challenge."

He said he had no regrets about the Iraq war and he believes Bush's low approval ratings were the result of making tough decisions.

"Sometimes when you lead the country you do difficult things, that you're going to experience periods that are going to be rocky, particularly when it has to do with war and loss of life," Bartlett said.

"It will be one of those things, when I hang up the spurs for the last time, I'll be able to look in the mirror and say, `I know this president and this White House did what they thought was right.' And at the end of the day, that's all you can do."

Bolten said Bartlett had made "a big contribution on almost everything that's important. He's one of the two or three people under 40 whose judgment, I think, rivals anybody else's judgment in government today. The president has a lot of confidence in him, and everybody else around here does, too."

4 Responses to Longtime Bush aide leaving White House

  1. CheckerboardStrangler

    June 3, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Wow…I thought I had a wry retort to post but I bow to yours. I am not worthy!

    Pvt. Dan Bartlett does have a nice ring to it.
    Again, I am not worthy!

    PS: How does one become a KEY gubernatorial aide at age 22? Yes I realize that there are brilliant 22 year olds, but this case seems to smack of some kind of “annointing” at a very early age.

  2. JArender

    June 3, 2007 at 6:38 am

    Dan Bartlett might consider enlisting in the military as a career choice.

  3. bryan mcclellan

    June 2, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Sinking fast in a sea of lies and treasonous acts the ship of state has lost another rat to the rising tide of shit thats been perpetrated on the American people.The bilge pumps are overheated and the skippers locked the door on the wheelhouse,Swim danny swim,your days of polishing the turd are at an end.And just think of what great resume fodder you have, no wonder you need a lawyer to help you find a job. Are there really 600 days of this hell left ????

  4. Arlo J. Thudpucker

    June 3, 2007 at 1:14 am

    Ah, yes. More time with the family. A familiar refrain.

    We know Danny Boy’s forte was damage control.

    Now, I imagine that Danny was familiar with Tim Griffin’s “caging list” flummery.

    I can also imagine Congress requesting the honor of Mr. Griffin’s presence at a hearing or two.

    Since Conyers has access to some 500 of Greg Palast’s copies of previously “missing” RNC emails, I also imagine questions regarding Mr. Griffin being directly linked to the “caging list” scheme to be asked.

    Mr. Griffin’s problem is that the manner in which he suppressed voter’s rights happens to be a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yes, the “F” word.

    Of course, exploring the use of “caging lists” in the 2004 national elections would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

    Could it be … the fix was in?

    It seems that there’s a felony or two waiting to be discovered.

    Tsk.

    And Danny Boy probably knew all the lurid details.

    Which is why Mr. Bartlett’s presence may also be requested.

    Barring any unfortunate accidents, Conyers is in a position to beat Messrs. Griffin and Bartlett like a pinata.

    Previously, I thought the next GOPers to get room and board at Club Fed were Lewis and Doolittle.

    Now, it looks like they may be welcomed by Griffin and Bartlett.

    Enjoy the show!