The Man Who Made Washington Work
James Baker the Campaigner
As Reagan’s second term drew to a close, Vice President George H. W. Bush decided to run for president. He asked Baker to lead his campaign – and Baker accepted. The gloves came off during the campaign, but despite the negativity – or perhaps because of it – the Bush team won comfortably in November.
James Baker Coalition Builder
In 1990, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the neighboring country of Kuwait, a blatant act of aggression. All eyes were on the United States, the world’s “lone” superpower, to see how it would react. It was up to Baker and Bush to show the world that the U.S. could respond appropriately.
James Baker Diplomacy Coalition
A coalition is a group of diverse entities that come together for a common cause. On a small scale, a coalition may be a group of people. On a larger scale, it could be made up of multiple organizations or nations. Frequently the entities within a coalition have differing viewpoints or beliefs, which they attempt to bridge via the coalition.
James Baker the Deal Maker
As treasury secretary, Baker was tasked with tax reform. It was a huge undertaking that took more than a year of bipartisan negotiations, but finally Baker and Democratic Congressman Dan Rostenkowski were able to craft legislation that both Democrats and Republicans could stand behind.
James Baker the Diplomat
Baker was sworn in as Bush’s secretary of state at a particularly turbulent time in global politics. For 40 years, Germany’s Berlin Wall had stood as a concrete representation of Cold War tensions. But in 1989, the wall came tumbling down. Baker and Bush were faced with the delicate challenge of balancing a reunited East and West Germany with a weakened Soviet Union.
James Baker Diplomatic Leader
Bush and Baker contributed to ending the Cold War. The Cold War—a period of hostility between the U.S. and the Soviet Union—dominated global politics during the second half of the 20th century. When Baker was sworn in as the secretary of state, forces were aligning for the Cold War to come to an end. In 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet General Secretary, was deep in a campaign to reform communism. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the Cold War began to melt away.
James Baker the Peace Maker
The success of the Gulf War coalition changed the political landscape of the Middle East. Baker wanted to seize the moment to pursue one of the most elusive goals in diplomacy — a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors. Could the great negotiator manage what seemed to be impossible?
James Baker Political Tactician
James Baker did not aspire to be a political operative. Growing up, he was largely apolitical. Former first lady Barbara Bush, who knew Baker as a young Houston attorney, later recalled that he preferred hunting over voting. But when he worked on a Senate campaign for his friend George H. W. Bush, it became obvious that Baker had impeccable political instincts.
James Baker the Power Broker
In 1980, Baker accepted a job at the White House as the chief of staff for Republican President Ronald Reagan. On Capitol Hill, he engaged in “horse trading” with members of Congress in an effort to get the administration’s conservative agenda passed.
James Baker the Heir
Baker was born into power and privilege and seemingly destined to become a lawyer.