Updates from Frederick Smith, former Detroiter living in Los Angeles, and author of Down For Whatever (July2005) and Right Side of the Wrong Bed (December 2007).
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
A New Job
I've been nominated to take on a new job.
As a pilot. I think I can do it. I mean, I've flown on lots of planes. I've even known my share of airline personnel over the years. And I'm a man of principle and values, and anyone who knows me knows that I am a fast learner and can pick up anything while on the job. And my values and principles don't change, based on a change in altitude or situation.
Anyone wanna ride on my plane?
Of course I'm being sarcastic, as we gear up for another round of silliness in D.C. with the latest addition to the cast of Friends, I mean the clique (s)elected to live in Washington, the lovely, talented, and mean elementary school teacher look-alike, Harriet Miers.
I get regular e-mails from a progressive political organization, MoveOn, and today the mail encouraged all of us to find out as much as we can about Ms. Miers. Here's a summary of her career, as MoveOn summarized it, courtesy of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary, to help jump start your research:
1970—Graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School 1970-1972—Clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Joe Estes 1972-2001—Joined Texas law firm, Locke, Purnell 1985—Elected president of the Dallas Bar Association 1986-1989—Member of the State Bar board of directors 1989-1991—Elected and served one term on the Dallas City Council 1992—Elected president of the Texas State Bar 1993-1994—Worked as counsel for Bush's gubernatorial campaign 1995-2000—Appointed chairwoman of Texas Lottery Commission by Gov. George Bush 1996—Became president of Locke, Purnell, and the first woman to lead a major Texas law firm 1998—Presided over the merger of Locke, Purnell with another big Texas firm, Liddell, Sapp, Zivley, Hill & LaBoon, and became co-managing partner of the resulting megafirm, Locke Liddell & Sapp 2000—Represented Bush and Cheney in a lawsuit stemming from their dual residency in Texas while running in the Presidential primary 2001—Selected as staff secretary for President Bush 2003—Promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy 2004—Selected as White House Counsel
There are many important questions that need to be addressed, including: What policies did she advocate for on the Dallas City Council? What was her record at the head of the scandal-ridden Texas Lottery Commission? What cases did she take on while working as a corporate lawyer in private practice, and what positions did she fight for? What has she written or said in and outside of her law practice about her views on constitutional issues like privacy, the "commerce clause" or equal protection As White House councel Alberto Gonzales played a pivotal role in softening America's stance on torture. What positions has Harriet Miers advocated for in the same role? Has she ever publicly distanced herself from George W. Bush? It's important that we move quickly in answering these questions. The Bush spin machine has been prepared for this nomination for some time and is already cranking at full speed. The strategy is to move Miers through as an enigma. We need to make sure the facts about her views are known.
But mean elementary school look-alikes aside, I started thinking about people I have worked with over the years, who, through pure personality, going along to get along, similarities (like being part of the 'majority' if you know what I mean), befriending the leaders and spouse, and browning up their noses, have moved up and along the ladder of organizational success. Some of these folks have had different qualifications than what I would have imagined being needed for their positions -- skiing together on weekends, baking cookies every other week, hanging out in the leader's office, happy hour, etc...-- qualifications that go beyond education, skills, and experience.
Having been in the workplace and college, I know the adage of "it's not what you know, but who you know" is true and makes and breaks careers at times. And I know it's also not fair in an ideal world, where concern for equality and social justice guide decisions.