Back in SUNY - Stonybrook, I took a course by Michael Barnhart about the History of World War II. He said a line that stuck: If you want to live forever, work in High Level Government Jobs. That was a metaphor as we were dealing with pre-FDR Presidents and cabinets, some of the same names popped up again and again.
During the Harding/Coolidge and Hoover Administrations, some of the same men keep on appearing in the cabinets. There was a sense of continuity. FDR picked up people from Woodrow Wilson's Administration and from his time as Governor of New York. President Truman had some of the best minds who fought the Hun in World war II and even Republicans helped out the low polled President. (Another reason of the dearth of Gray men in the Democratic party ranks: what Democratic Senator supported in word and deed, a low polling Republican president? See, the Democrats put Party before Country)
This pattern continued all the way up to 1977. And then it returned back in 1981. And then it stopped in 2009. See a pattern?
Now, if you read the title, I'm sure you're asking, Who or what are "The Gray Men?" if you're a UFO geek, then it might mean this.
But for the political world, "The Gray Men," are those men and women (post 1980), who have experience within the Political and Policy realms at State and Cabinet level. Grey Men are the only people who can say "NO," to a sitting president and are listened too. Men and women who work at the High Level cabinet offices of the State, DoD, CIA and NSA are also considered (in retirement) to be "Gray Men,"
If you are thrown out of office due to corruption, you do not regain title of "Grey Men", except if you follow former President Nixon's trajectory (who himself was surrounded by Gray men during his tenure) of writing policy books for at least a decade.
That is why Nixon was rehabilitated and Agnew was not. President Clinton with his Global Initiative is following the same course.
When President George W. Bush chose Vice President Cheney, he chose a "Gray man," When Clinton had as an advisor David Gergen, he was a "grey man," James Baker, Condi Rice and Don Rumsfeld are all Grey Men. I know I feel secure if they are advising a president. With the death of Alexander Haig, Washington loses one more piece of wisdom.
President Obama and his cabinet and his staff have no way of winning the American Public since the campaign. There are no Grey men surrounding him. Again, a Grey Man telling President Obama "No," would have been the best thing. Seriously, Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod are partisans, not statesmen. Any Gray Man would tell President Obama that there is a by-sell date for blaming President Bush and by 1/20/10, he was long past it.
Every Four years, the economy goes down and every fifth year, the economy and jobs rebound. President Obama broke that pattern (Remember President Bush had to deal with the "Dot-com bomb," and 9/11 destroying the financial sector of New York). Why? Look who surrounds him -- No Gray Men.
With the New York Times saying Unemployment is a feature and not a bug of the post 2008 economy, the lack of Gray Men in Obama's Washington makes it time to worry.
My question: Who are the Democratic parties "Grey Men?" And Who are the Post 2008 Republican parties "Gray men?"