Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Early Oeuvre of Karen Hughes

Bob Mann writes in the New York Times about his time as journalism guru to a teenage Karen Hughes at Southern Methodist University:


Hughes, 19 at the time and still called Karen Parfitt, was in Mann's undergraduate deadline-writing class and framed her worldview thusly:

"The most important issue facing America is the question of her foreign policy. I have lived in other countries and seen anti-American feelings growing as totalitarian governments or a loss of democracy begin to sweep their country.

"I think America is in danger both internally from the dissentions of her own people on foreign policy and externally from the strong governments in the world which are not democratic."

Mann then recalls the future undersecretary-designate's self-analysis. Here's what she wrote about her ambitions:

"My lifetime goal is to contribute in a positive way to whatever task I work at," adding, "My greatest personal asset is a dogged determination which only forces me to work harder at something when I have difficulty with it.

"My greatest personal liability," she typed on, "is perhaps trying to satisfy other people more often than thinking what is best for me." The under secretary-designate, given her loyal service to the president, is perhaps still burdened by that "liability."

Thanks to Bob Mann for unearthing Hughes' early and presumably guileless words. We'll hope she can transfer her well-known abilities and doggedness—and her loyalty—to the State Department and the task of being America's top public diplomat.

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