Bush Names New Deputy

Posted July 16, 2008 at 10:35am

In an unusual step, President Bush today named his former personal assistant to be White House deputy chief of staff.

Blake Gottesman, 28, will replace the departing Joe Hagin as the person in charge of making the trains run on time at the White House. Gottesman, who in high school once dated Bush’s daughter Jenna, will oversee all the offices staffed by career White House officials, including the travel, military and scheduling offices.

During his time as Bush’s personal aide from 2002 to 2006, Gottesman traveled extensively with the president, and one of his chief roles as deputy chief of staff will be to oversee the advance work for presidential overseas trips.

Gottesman will not formulate policy. But his personal closeness to Bush — as well as the fact that his office will be next door to the Oval — makes it likely his influence will range beyond his officially stated duties.

As personal aide, Gottesman was constantly in Bush’s presence, performing mundane roles like offering the leader of the free world wet wipes or his Scottish terrier — as needed.

But he also helped regulate the flow of staff and paperwork coming Bush’s way. Despite the failure of his relationship with Jenna, Bush is said to have liked Gottesman enormously and was impressed with his performance in a job that required the type of meticulousness his new role will demand. Gottesman does not have a college degree, but was nevertheless accepted at Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA.