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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Underqualified 

Did someone say John Edwards was too callow and inexperienced to run for national office? Apropos of that special someone, Geraldine Sealy at Salon's "War Room" links to excerpts from a speech by David Rubenstein, co-founder and manager of the Carlyle Group, which through its investments ranks as the 11th-largest defense contractor in America. Current and former board members include George H.W. Bush, John Major, Frank Carlucci, and James Baker; as Fahrenheit 9/11 documented, members of the bin Laden family were heavily invested in Carlyle from 1994 to 2001, when their participation in the group became a source of public embarrassment. Here Rubenstein reminisces about an erstwhile board member who, despite having all the right connections, ultimately had to be unloaded because -- how to put it kindly? -- because he never brought much to the party:
But when we were putting the board together, somebody [Fred Malek] came to me and said, look there is a guy who would like to be on the board. He's kind of down on his luck a bit. Needs a job. Needs a board position. Needs some board positions. Could you put him on the board? Pay him a salary and he'll be a good board member and be a loyal vote for the management and so forth.

I said well we're not usually in that business. But okay, let me meet the guy. I met the guy. I said I don't think he adds that much value. We'll put him on the board because - you know - we'll do a favor for this guy; he's done a favor for us.

We put him on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years - you know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don't think you're adding that much value to the board. You don't know that much about the company.

He said, well I think I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't really like it that much. So I'm probably going to resign from the board.

And I said, thanks - didn't think I'd ever see him again. His name is George W. Bush. He became President of the United States. So you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category. So you never know. Anyway, I haven't been invited to the White House for any things.

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