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Economy Bad Even for Bush Administration Officials

With fewer than three months to go in George W. Bush’s presidency, it’s time for top administration officials to line up high-powered jobs at Fortune 500 companies or Washington think tanks. But as the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, that’s not happening.

Partly due to the bad economy and partly due to the president’s historic unpopularity (24 percent is his latest approval rating), more than 3,000 political appointees don’t have a job lined up after Jan. 20. Fairly high-profile officials like Education Secretary Margaret Spellings have been turned down for jobs.

This is strange. Clinton administration officials, for example, are leaders of prominent think tanks (John Podesta at Center for American Progress, Strobe Talbott at the Brookings Institutions), big banks (Jacob Lew at Citigroup) and major universities (Donna Shalala at the University of Miami).

But the transition has, relatively speaking, been a struggle for officials either disgraced during the administration, like Alberto Gonzales, or just hurt by their association with it, like Spellings.

Perhaps top Bush officials will eventually get the plum private-sector work that appointees of previous presidential administration’s enjoy. But for now, these officials are too radioactive to participate in the public-private revolving door in Washington.

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