President Bush added another “Yale man” to the upper echelons of U.S. government this week with his appointment of Steven Hadley LAW ’72 to replace Condoleezza Rice as National Security Adviser.
Hadley served under Rice during Bush’s first term as deputy national security adviser, a role in which he largely kept a low profile. Hadley gained attention in 2003 when he took responsibility for inaccuracies in the President’s State of the Union address.
In his new job, Hadley will be responsible for coordinating the State and Defense departments, as well as other government offices involved in national security. He will also lead the National Security Council, which presents options to the President for foreign policy decision-making.
Diplomat-in-Residence Charles Hill said that Hadley’s legal training will be helpful as national security adviser.
“It gives you analytical tools to organize your thinking, and to organize the presentation of problems in international security,” Hill said. “The first task and responsibility of an NSC adviser is to organize the options and present them to the National Security Council itself and to the president.”
Hill also commended Hadley’s low profile in Washington, which he said will help Hadley avoid the mistakes of his predecessors.
“They are always tempted to be more political, to be independent operators, to be rivals of the secretaries of state and defense,” he said. “This is where NSC advisers got presidencies into trouble in the past.”
Haldey could not be reached for comment this week.
Robert Peck LAW ’72, a classmate and friend of Hadley, said Hadley’s personality would be more valuable than his law degree in his new job.
“His job in the White House is to serve as the go-between for [policy makers] and the president,” he said. “Most of the training that lawyers get either in law school or later in practice is not conducive to managing anything.”
Particularly in the “turbulent” period of 1969-72, when the two were in law school, Peck said the law school tended to be very left-wing, both politically and socially. Hadley was conservative, Peck said, but he was also able to overcome ideological differences and reach out to both the left and right.
“Steve was definitely not a part of either of those cultures,” Peck said. “Steve is a guy who can make friends on all sides.”
David Alkire LAW ’72 said Hadley’s conservatism was apparent even in Hadley’s picture from their first year of law school, in which he appeared in a Navy uniform.
“It was certainly a little distinctive given the nature of the times, and to me that’s fully consistent with the position he’s ended up in now,” he said.
While they were in law school, Alkire said many law students frequently participated in antiwar rallies, but Hadley did not.
“It was a really turbulent time, and I would say he resisted tendencies to go off and demonstrate in the streets,” Alkire said.
Alkire described Hadley as “low-profile” in law school, and Hill confirmed that during his years of government service Hadley has been “virtually invisible.”
Hadley is a “decent human being,” Peck, who worked with Hadley briefly after law school, said.
“He’s a very straight arrow,” Peck said. “I suspect, without knowing President Bush, I’d say Steve Hadley was probably a lot more stable and mature in his time at Yale than President Bush was in his.”