Saturday, November 13, 2004

Margaret Spellings: some background, kinda sorta

Be sure to keep an eye on this new blog Education at the Brink as it is written by a Texas teacher who is sure to more about these things than me.

Education at the Brink points out this 2001 WaPo piece about Margaret Spellings, rumored to be the most likely person to replace Rod Paige, now set to leave his post as Secretary of Education.

However, as Education at the Brink notes,
I wonder if she's too valuable as a domestic policy advisor to focus only on education, even though it's her specialty. The Post article quotes Rove as saying, "You name it, and it's hers," when asked about her areas of responsibility in 2001.
I agree. She has has grown in her position as Domestic Policy doyenne. I wonder if she would hesitate to limit herself to one domestic area.

Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued about Spellings so I went snooping around looking for more info on the Internets.

'Low-profile' seems to be it. Not good if you want transparency but covert has been the preferred modus operandi anyway.

Probably what should be noted most significant is her long working association with Dubya. She's been an advisor officially since 1994, back in Texas when he was Governor. She's considered to be pretty high ranking and powerful. She was one of the many authors of NCLB and helped to pull together the different legislative factions, an amazing task.

Other than that, I didn't find much other than stuff which essentially amounts to....gossip. Egads. Sorry, people. Read on if you're interested.

*She was previously known as Margaret LaMontagne. Dubya's nickname for her is 'La Margarita' according to Business Week. Business Week, in an early gushy piece, calls her the West Wing Warrior princess.

*She recently married Robert Spellings, rumored to be a staff member of the guy who found Dubya a position in the National Guard, ages ago. If true, this is a very interesting factoid.

*From Slate, more gossip:
John DiIulio told Esquire's Ron Suskind that the Bush White House is run by "Mayberry Machiavellis" who are incapable of "meaningful, substantive policy discussions." This was mainly a swipe at Karl Rove and the absolute sway his political shop holds over policymaking. But it was also a swipe at Margaret LaMontagne, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. "What she knows about domestic policy could fit in a thimble," DiIulio told Suskind. Ouch!
*Slate's Chatterbox notes when she came onto the Washington scene from Texas, she mentioned she was a single mom and promptly got in trouble. Terrible. Chatterbox speculates this is why she has kept a low profile since. It sounds as though she's uber-political and on the move up who figured out she cannot be off-message ever again.

*Spellings has the largest non-oval corner office in the West Wing. She's right next to Rove. The other person with corner office is Alberto Gonzalez, and we all know where he's going.

*I checked a transcript of a question and answer session with the (carefully screened, no doubt) public. She is an amazing fountain of talking points. The education comments she made were all consistent with established Administration talking points. No more straying off message for her anymore.

That there isn't much known about her is interesting in and of itself.

What does this all mean? She's dependable, the one to certainly keep the Dubya policy wheels moving. She's probably more reliable than Paige to say the right things, to never be off-message, and perhaps be more effective than Paige in getting things done. Which certainly doesn't make me feel better since I don't agree with the current education policy.

If anything, expect acceleration of corporate/conservative policy if she steps up to take this job.