Still, that’s not the work that stands out on his résumé. He was a special assistant to then–Defense Secretary Cheney before becoming general counsel at the Pentagon. Before that, he served as an assistant general counsel at the CIA, Republican staff director for the Senate committee on intelligence, and GOP counsel for the House committees on intelligence and foreign affairs and the committee to investigate Iran-Contra. By contrast, his domestic-policy experience came as senior vice president and general counsel to the American Trucking Associations and as a partner in one law firm and of counsel to another.
Longtime Heritage president Edwin Feulner puts it a bit differently when asked why Addington wound up where he is.
“If you have got a bid in on a thoroughbred and he normally starts in the second gate and the only vacancy you’ve got is in the fifth gate, you are going to take him and put him in the fifth gate,” Feulner says. “This guy is terrific, both in terms of his Capitol Hill experience, going way back to his private-sector experience, American Trucking Associations, and on and on. When he was Cheney’s chief of staff, his portfolio was everything.” Juleanna Glover, Cheney’s former press secretary, notes that Addington’s new role sends a positive signal about Heritage: “What it says is they mean business. David is sublimely competent. He is an amazing lawyer to have on your side. It’s a master stroke for Heritage to have brought him on. He’s uncompromisingly conservative.”
Still, even Glover calls Addington’s role at Heritage “counterintuitive,” explaining that his learning curve includes overcoming the baggage from his hard-charging ways at the White House: “I think that some of the policies and some of the internal White House arguments did leave some bruised feelings, and also just sort of some reputational damage to many Bush administration officials. David’s challenge will be to be open and to widely sample all the various opinions and proposals that are available in sort of the conservative political space and have Heritage serve as a take-all, open policy shop where new principled, conservative policy ideas can be formulated and launched into the policy sphere. That is a real opportunity.”
Next: The many faces of David Addington