PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Bush impels staff to 'scrub' trouble

WASHINGTON: George W. Bush, who once remarked that, if elected, the first thing he would do is give the Oval office 'a good scrubbing,' lived up to his word last week - literally (sort of) and figuratively.

WASHINGTON: George W. Bush, who once remarked that, if elected, the first thing he would do is give the Oval office 'a good scrubbing,' lived up to his word last week - literally (sort of) and figuratively.

WASHINGTON: George W. Bush, who once remarked that, if elected, the first thing he would do is give the Oval office 'a good scrubbing,' lived up to his word last week - literally (sort of) and figuratively.

Our nation's 43rd president made ethical revitalization a centerpiece of his campaign. And though the well-publicized refurbishing of the Oval Office (including a new coat of paint and a new carpet) could be seen as a fulfillment of that promise, nothing spoke so loudly as the advice he - very publicly - offered to his new staff.

At the swearing-in ceremony, held on his first day in office and carried on national TV, President Bush briefly but sternly lectured the assembled mass of appointees. 'We have all taken an oath,' he said, 'and from this moment on it is our jobs (sic) to honor it.

'I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that define legal and ethical conduct. This means even avoiding the appearance of problems.'

Good advice - and good PR.

The early lapses of judgment on behalf of the young Clinton staff (and Clinton himself) are not only well-known, but have been the subject of much public rehashing lately. With the end of the administration, the preponderance of Clinton retrospectives was all-consuming. Every outlet from PBS to CNN to MSNBC ran shows highlighting the high - and low - points of the outgoing administration. If anyone had forgotten the name 'Lewinsky,' or Dick Morris' infidelities, or campaign calls made from the Oval Office, these reminiscences did all they could to remind them.

It was in front of this backdrop that President Bush stood like a rock and told his people to behave. The statement was not lost on the media.

And odds are, the American people heard him as loudly as his staff did.



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