New Clinton Broom Sweeps Away Bush Administration Appointees
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Just one day after Bush administration officials shuffled misty-eyed out of the national spotlight, the people of the Clinton era moved in, taking over empty offices throughout official Washington.
On Tuesday, desks were emptied and office walls were stripped bare. Boxes filled with memories sat in hallways, awaiting a final move into history.
But just minutes after President Clinton was sworn in, new boxes began arriving and in places like the White House, new Clinton workers began moving in and taking charge.
Members of the Clinton press staff arrived less than an hour before their man was sworn in and carefully avoided taking any official action while the minutes ticked away.
Then they gathered around a television set and watched the former Arkansas governor become their new president.
″We did it,″ someone shouts. ″We all did it.″
On Tuesday it was a different story. It was a day of sadness and wrenching change for the Bush people.
″I’m just finishing packing up,″ said William Kristol, chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. ″By the end of the day I will surrender all my passes and everything that identifies me as a White House employee.
″I’m off the payroll at noon tomorrow - a free citizen,″ he said.
More than 3,000 political appointees scurried through their final days of power, many looking for jobs or planning to return to home states far from the capital.
Some of those departing held parties - ″they were more like wakes,″ said one - to mark the end of their Washington service. Addresses were exchanged, memories recalled and promises of continued friendship made.
Katja Bullock, who worked 11 years for Presidents Reagan and Bush, said the White House echoed with emptiness on Tuesday.
″Our checkout date was the 15th,″ she said. ″We have to leave so they can come in and clean. I just have a couple of more boxes and then I’m gone.″
Earlier, Ms. Bullock said, every scrap of paper from the Bush years was archived, boxed and shipped to Texas. One day, scholars at a planned presidential library in College Station will sort through documents and recount history’s view of the era.
″I’ve been very impressed by the orderly way it has all occurred,″ Ms. Bullock said. ″But I guess that’s what makes us different from a banana republic. That’s the strength of our system.
″Everybody’s cried a little,″ she added. ″But it’s time to leave.″
The symbols of duty’s end for White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater were two beige telephones, one of them cracked. The phones had been connected to special White House lines at Fitzwater’s home, but he brought them to the office Tuesday.
″The White House phones are gone,″ Fitzwater told reporters in his barren office. ″I’m out.″
Ronald C. Kaufman, who went to work for Bush 14 years ago in the snows of New Hampshire, said he expects to be ″a little bit misty″ in his final hours as the White House political director.
″It’s like graduating from college and going on with the rest of your life,″ he said. ″I loved it and hated it ... I wouldn’t have changed a day.″
On Thursday, the first full day of the Clinton administration, Kaufman said he plans to wake up, ″take a cold shower and start all over again.″
Plastic-shrouded furniture lined the third-floor ″power corridor″ at the Treasury Department where Deputy Secretary John Robson leisurely packed personal items and artwork. There was paperwork on a desk, but not much.
″Change is good,″ he said. ″It can be painful, but it’s good.″
On the office wall of State Department aide John Bolton, a sign told the whole story: ″Wake me up in ’96 and tell me it was a bad dream.″