I am reminded of advice I had from an old Carter White House friend in legislative affairs, who I went to see very early on during the transition. I said, “Give me some advice,” and he said to me, “Your biggest problems will not be on Capitol Hill; but they will be within the walls of the White House and the walls of the administration because everybody in the administration, in the White House always thinks of themselves as experts on the White House. The Congress you can handle. It's the people who are throwing knives on your strategic decisions that will cause you the most problems.” That was a very important piece of advice. The other piece of advice I got is from a crusty old Democratic Congressman who I had known in my previous incarnations. I said, “I've heard you say you've seen presidents come and go and they're not worth anything. And you've seen White House staffs come and go and they are worth even less. What advice can you give me so that I can serve the President and the Congress so that we can have an effective relationship?” And he puffed on a long cigar, looked me in the eye and said, “Duberstein, you're smarter than about 95 percent of the people up here. But what you have to remember is we're elected and you ain't.” Very good advice that not only did I heed, but I had my staff heed it in those days of legislative affairs at the beginning and at the end as Chief of Staff.
-Ken Duberstein, Former Chief of Staff to President Reagan