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Saturday, May 27, 2006 

Harvard's Royal Treatment

It must be good to know the President or the President's daughter. When a break-up happens, usually parents would take the side of their children. Not in the case of Jenna Bush and Blake Gottesman, the current personal aide and body man to Dudya. In Ronald Kessler's book, Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady, Kessler writes Laura’s personal life. And of the stories Laura talks about is an incident between Jenna and Blake.
In 1998, when Bush was governor of Texas, daughter Jenna woke him at 1:30 a.m. to tell him her boyfriend, Blake Gottesman, had been mean to her, and she asked her father to speak with him. Jenna became angry when, instead of defending her, Bush told Gottesman, "Could the two of you please just work this out in the morning?"
Ever since then, its been the good life for Blake.

Blake began working for Dudya his presidential campaign back in 1999. After that he attended Claremont-McKenna College in California for one year. At Claremont, he served as a Personal Assistant to the President of the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College. According to Wikipedia:
Today, CMC is consistently ranked as one of the country's top liberal arts colleges; it ranked 10th in U.S. News and World Report in 2005. CMC is also the youngest and smallest college ranked in the list's top 20 schools. Furthermore, admission to the college is highly selective--only 20% of applicants were admitted in 2005.

The Princeton Review lists Claremont McKenna among the nation's top twenty colleges for the "Best Quality of Life," "Happiest Students," and "Most Politically Active Students."
But I guess he couldn't hack it so he dropped out and became Dudya personal aide, the new "Altoid Boy" since the old "Altoid Boy," Israel Hernandez became an assistant to Karl Rove.

So what is Blake's job? According to the New York Times, Blake can be considered Dudya's servant boy. His duties are chief bag-carrier, dog-sitter, call-screener, hand-cleanser, paper-sorter, speech-reader, lectern-duster, schedule-keeper and Altoid-provider.
Part Sherpa, part butler, part air traffic controller, Gottesman, 25, is the president's personal aide. It is a job steeped in the minutiae of carrying Bush's Altoids, Sharpie markers and hand sanitizer, and in the delicacy of handling the check on the rare occasions when the president dines out. Gottesman also keeps track of the paper flow to the president, logs all his meetings and phone calls, and questions senior aides about grammar and phrasing in Bush's speech texts.
The pay has to be good to be at his beck-n-call, 24 hours a day. In 2004, the Washington Post ran an article on the White House salary figures which were leaked to the Post. How much did Blake earn: in 2003 - $52,100 and in 2004 - $54,400. That seems pretty modest considering that we have to cater to Dudya's needs. But in 2005, he received a major increase in salary, he raking in a cool $70K.
Gottesman, who makes about $70,000 a year, declined to be interviewed for this article, saying cooperation would paint him as a publicity hound.
What are his other perks? How admissions to Harvard Business School which was recently reported by the student paper The Harvard Crimson.
A 26-year-old college dropout who carries President Bush’s breath mints and makes him peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches will follow in his boss’s footsteps this fall when he enrolls at Harvard Business School (HBS).

Though it is rare for HBS—or any other professional or graduate school—to admit a student who does not have an undergraduate degree, admissions officers made an exception for Blake Gottesman...
Considering Dudya received his MBA also at HBS, one has to wonder if Dudya had any influence in getting young Blake into the same graduate program.
President George W. Bush is the very first President to hold a Masters Degree in Business Administration. Even better (or worse, depending on your perspective), his MBA is from Harvard Business School, where postgraduate management training was invented in the early part of the last century, and which to many stands as a symbol of the good, the bad, and the ugly faces of modern management. Harvard MBAs indisputably lead more major corporations, receive higher starting salaries fresh out of school, and carry with them more élan and glamour than the graduates of any rival business schools – facts which do not necessarily lead to admiration and love.
How is possible that someone who never completed his undergraduate degree be able to enroll into Harvard Business School. According the HBS' website, Admissions Requirements are:
To be considered for admission, a candidate must have successfully completed the following:
  • A degree program at an accredited U.S. four-year undergraduate college/university or its equivalent in another country;
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) exam. The GMAT is a prerequisite for admission;
The application for the MBA class entering in the fall of 2006 consisted of the following:
  • Responses to the application essay questions

  • Current resume
  • Three recommendations (must be submitted online)
  • Self-reported transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate academic institutions attended (full- or part-time)
  • HBS Community Standards Statement
  • Statement of Application Integrity
  • GMAT
  • Nonrefundable U.S. $225 application fee (credit card only)
Jim Aisner, a spokesman for HBS told The Economist:
extraordinary circumstances will sometimes compel it to drop the rule. He will not comment on the case of Mr Gottesman, but he does note that the lack of a degree would hardly keep the likes of Bill Gates or Michael Dell, both college dropouts, from being admitted.
I think if Gates or Dell wanted to go back to college to get their MBA, I think their experience is trumps carrying Dudya's Altoids any day. So what special program can get somebody into an Ivy League school like Harvard Business School? Could it be that Harvard has a legacy admission system that helped young Blake into Harvard?

Blake is similar to Bush, when Bush was admitted into HBS. When Bush was admitted to Yale in 1964 it was through an affirmative action program for children of alumni - called a "legacy" system. Both Poppy ('48) and Grand daddy Bush ('17) where Yalies and at that time being a child of an alumnus got you in. But how did Bush get into HBS if nobody in his family went to Harvard? Maybe a 2003 article in The American Prospect (TAP) can shed some light.
And has anyone asked the president how he got into Harvard Business School, the nation's premier training ground for corporate executives? We like to think that the school selects students based on meritocratic criteria: college grades, scores on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or some experience in the real world of business that would demonstrate the skills necessary to run a major corporation.

In 1973 he was discharged from the National Guard in order to enter Harvard Business School. By that time, Bush had already been rejected in his home state by the University of Texas' law school because of his lackluster performance at Yale.

At the time Bush's application landed at Harvard Business School, Bush Senior - who had recovered from his defeated bids for U.S. Senate in 1964 and 1970 and was by then a former congressman from Texas, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former U.S. diplomatic liaison to China - was chairman of the Republican National Committee. Might Senior's fame have played a role?
So did Blake get a favorable letter of recommendation from his boss? I wonder if Dudya thought long and hard before he agreed to do this for one of his former daughter's boyfriend and now personal aide. Not because Dudya will be loosing a great personal butler, but Dudya had already come out opposing colleges using "legacy admissions." Surely, Dudya wouldn't want someone attending his alumnus who doesn’t meet HBS high standards. Or could he? In an issue of Harvard's Nieman Watchdog, it was reported that Bush opposed "legacy admissions."
Q. (For President Bush): Mr. Bush, you said at the Unity conference of minority journalists that you are opposed to a person's legacy being a factor in admission to college. Is that your position?

Q. If it is your position, do you have any follow-up action in mind? For example, will you urge colleges to end the practice?

Q. (For college presidents): Do you yourself favor or oppose "legacy admissions?" If you had to make a trade-off — legacy admissions on the one hand, vs. decreases in gifts from alumni if legacy admissions are ended — which would you choose, and why?

On Aug. 6, President Bush told the Unity convention of minority journalists in Washington, DC, that he opposes "legacy admissions" to colleges — the policy of favoring children of alumni.

"I think it [admissions] ought to be based on merit," [President] Bush said in responding to a question this morning at the Washington Convention Center from Roland S. Martin, a commentator who is running the editorial operations of the Chicago Defender for three months. Martin represented the National Association of Black Journalists on the panel of questioners.
Either Harvard had lowered its requirements on merits for admission or Blake got into through Harvard's affirmative action program for those who are well connected unless Blake is Dudya's long lost son. The GOP shill about the importance on the use of a "race neutral" policy when it comes to college admissions and how be based on merit alone. This is nothing more than facade. How did Blake fairly compete with all the rest of the people (not just minorities, everybody!) who applied to get into HBS? Given the President's schedule, did Blake even take the GMAT?

Blake may not be Dudya's child, but he is treating Blake as the son never had. I wonder how Jenna feels about that.


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  • From Tejas, United States
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