Bush's Brain Trust

Article excerpt

Some 70 years ago, a group of Columbia University professors would leave their offices on Morningside Heights, usually on Fridays. Sometimes they entrained for Albany, New York's state capital. Sometimes on weekdays they headed to a mansion on New York City's aristocratic Upper East Side. In either place, they would be greeted enthusiastically by the governor of New York State who two years later would be elected president of the United States.

The Columbia professors, who later became known as the "brain trust," were lecturing to their one "student," Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were FDR's informal advisers on policy matters which in March 1933 became the New Deal. Among these advisers were Columbia Professors Raymond Moley, Rexford Tugwell, Joseph McGoldrick, Adolf A. Berle and two from Harvard, Benjamin Cohen and Thomas Corcoran. And, of course, there were other academics who came and went. These men comprised the first modern "brain trust," organized well in advance of the 1932 Democratic nominating convention. None of these professors, however, had had much rough-and-tumble political experience.

In advance of an almost certain presidential candidacy, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, 52, has organized his own "brain trust." He has enrolled leading Republican policy experts for advice and ideas on what would be major issues in the year 2000 presidential campaign.

There is this difference between FDR's advisers and Mr. Bush's. As onetime senior members of the Reagan or Bush administrations, the Texas governor's academic intellectuals, all Republicans, know politics and government from the inside as well. They have not only "taught" politics, they have "lived" it, too. And what is more, this all-star cast is firmly wedded to Mr. Bush's presidential cause. Among the Bush advisory "regulars" at these Austin seminars are:

Martin Anderson, Michael Boskin, Richard Cheney, Christopher DeMuth, Laurence Lindsay, Condaleeza Rice, George Shultz, Paul Wolfowitz. …