Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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A too 'social' secretary

Q: Was Desiree Rogers too interested in the spotlight to be successful as White House social secretary? Do some jobs require more discretion and less acclaim? Will Julianna Smoot be more suitable for the job -- or just less flashy in it?


Being the social secretary at the White House is a big and important job -- and not many people are cut out for the task. There is a high level of sophistication required. Which ambassadors need to be separated at a state dinner? Who from organized labor and industry should sit with whom? America's president needs a social secretary who manages these affairs competently and quietly in the background.

The people who have been most successful in the job have names you probably would not recognize. They were exceptional people who understood how to manage the complexities of the job. They did not often make headlines, but they smoothly directed social events that showcased the president and facilitated diplomacy.

It is natural for presidents to want to surround themselves with people they have known and trusted for years, and the job of social secretary is one that often goes to political cronies, friends or loyalists regardless of qualifications. Unfortunately, these people can do more damage to a president than his ideological opponents.

As the country continues to look for solutions to the economic downturn, ongoing joblessness and a mortgage industry that has not yet bounced back, the president has many important tasks on his plate and needs to surround himself with all the experts he can find.The Republicans have adopted the theme "What a difference a year makes" and are ready to fight. With mid-term elections coming up and wide voter frustration and anger, the president may want to look at replacing more than just his social secretary.

By Jan Scruggs  |  March 8, 2010; 3:39 PM ET  | Category:  Success from the sidelines Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Focus, focus, focus | Next: D.C.'s lack of style

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