An Aide’s Real-Time Aperture

July 1, 2022

One of the more-interesting, on-topic features I spotted today concerns those ‘omnipresent‘ White House aides, of which Cassidy Hutchinson is currently way-prominent, most-especially even as a former one:

Highlights from Zak’s must-read piece at The Washington Post this morning:

Washington is run by aides, or at least it runs on the work of aides: the gophers, the schedulers, the advisers, the consiglieres, the speechwriters, the deputy assistant whatevers, the advance teams, the surrogates and spokespeople, the bag men and body men and boss whisperers, the young women who arrange everything and get credit for nothing.
The aide is just out of frame, or blurry in the background, or seated against the wall of the conference room. Head down, taking notes, sending texts. Crafting a plan, a response, a lunch order. The aide’s responsibilities can be vast or pinpoint, consequential or quotidian. But even at a lower rank, even with modest experience, an aide has a source of formidable power: proximity. The aide sees and hears and knows, because they are, simply, around.

“Principal aide” was how Cassidy Hutchinson, 25, was described by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) Tuesday during the sixth hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee. Cheney used her opening remarks to situate Hutchinson at the nexus of power, calling her “a familiar face on Capitol Hill” whose desk was “several steps down the hall from the Oval Office.”

“Ms. Hutchinson,” Cheney said, “was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the Trump White House.”

“When I worked in the White House, I was always told: ‘If you really want to know what’s going on, talk to the assistant,’” says Eli Attie, who was a speechwriter for Al Gore and then a writer and producer for “The West Wing.”
“They’re the ones listening to all the calls, talking to other assistants. They know who’s delisted from various meetings. They know the private rantings of their bosses. They hear the stompings of the president. In a town and culture where proximity is power, the aides have the proximity.”

Hutchinson’s desk was located outside Meadows’s door in the West Wing, in a small reception area mere seconds from the Oval Office.
“Mostly I was there to serve what the chief of staff needed,” she told the committee, while describing her typical day as “varied,” which was both true and an understatement.

During Tuesday’s hearing, alumni of the Obama White House traded knowing texts when the committee showed the location of Hutchinson’s desk in the West Wing, according to Sean Sweeney, a former aide to Rahm Emanuel when he was Barack Obama’s first chief of staff.

“They can try to dismiss her as a low-level person or a young person, but that’s not how it works,” Sweeney says.
“If that’s where she sat and that’s the job she had, then she certainly knows what went on.”

“She was definitely very omnipresent,” recalls a former fellow aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak about workplace dynamics.
“I truly don’t know if I could come up with an accurate title” for her. “It really is hard to define just because it encompassed a lot.”

In the spectrum of Hutchinson and history: ‘In 1973, Alexander Butterfield — an assistant to Richard M. Nixon’s first chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman — told the Senate Watergate Committee about the president’s audiotapes. Multiple former White House aides interviewed for this article name-checked Butterfield as an analog to Hutchinson.

As I noted, go read the whole piece, these aides are the real backbone of government work (in ‘good‘ government work). and a deep dive into these mostly young people who have ‘enormous access‘ to real shit happening around them.

Even an aide to Josh Lyman has entrance:

Able aide or not, here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: M.C Escher’s ‘Three Spheres II,’ found here.)

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