Former Chief of Staff
James A. Baker
Notes from Evan Smith
"In my lifetime, and maybe in yours, no individual has been as much as of a presence in the immediate vicinity of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as this week's guest. James Addison Baker the 3rd -- born in Houston, educated at The Hill School, Princeton University, and the University of Texas Law School -- ran five presidential campaigns in five consecutive election cycles: for Gerald Ford in '76, George H.W. Bush in '80, Ronald Reagan in '84, and Bush again in '88 and '92 (won-loss record: two and three). He also served twice as White House chief of staff: from '81 to '85, in Reagan's first term, and from '92 to '93, in the waning days of Bush the elder's administration. From '85 to '88 he was U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; from '89 to '92 he was U.S. Secretary of State. So permanent a Beltway fixture was Baker that when Bill Clinton nudged Bush 41 out of the way, it was hard to think of the country running efficiently without his hand on the tiller. But the velvet hammer, as the press darling was sometimes known, returned home to Texas, founded an insitute for public policy named for him at Rice University, and returned to the practice of law at the firm bearing his family's name: Baker Botts. When Bush soon-to-be 43 called him back to active duty in Florida in the aftermath of the 2000 election, it was almost poignant to see him back in the public eye; six years later, less publicly, he's once again serving his country as part of the president's Iraq study group. And he has a fascinating new book out, about his life's lessons and the ways our world has changed, called 'Work Hard, Study, and Keep Out of Politics.'"
- Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 10.5.05