James Baker

James Baker

:See also James Addison BakerInfobox US Cabinet official
name = James Baker

order = 16th
title = White House Chief of Staff
term_start = August, 1992
term_end = January 20, 1993
predecessor = Samuel Skinner
successor = Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty
president = George H.W. Bush
order2 = 61st
title2 = United States Secretary of State
president2 = George H.W. Bush
term_start2 = January 20, 1989
term_end2 = August 23, 1992
predecessor2 = George P. Shultz
successor2 = Lawrence Eagleburger
order3 = 67th
title3 = United States Secretary of the Treasury
term_start3 = February 4, 1985
term_end3 = August 17, 1988
predecessor3 = Donald Regan
successor3 = Nicholas F. Brady
president3 = Ronald Reagan
order4 = 10th
title4 = White House Chief of Staff
term_start4 = January 20, 1981
term_end4 = February 3, 1985
predecessor4 = Jack Watson
successor4 = Donald T. Regan
president4 = Ronald Reagan
birth_date = birth date and age|1930|04|28
birth_place = Houston, Texas
party = Republican
religion = Episcopalian
alma_mater = Princeton University
spouse = Mary Stuart McHenry (1953-1970; her death) Susan Garrett Baker (1973-present)
profession = Lawyer/Politician

James Addison Baker, III (born April 28 1930), is a American attorney, politician, political administrator, and political advisor.

He served as the Chief of Staff in President Ronald Reagan's first administration and in the final year of the administration of President George H. W. Bush. Baker also served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1985-1988 in the second Reagan administration, and Secretary of State in the George H. W. Bush administration. He is also the namesake of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Early life and education

Born in Houston, Texas at 1216 Bissonnet, [http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/forms/procdesg.pdf City of Houston: Procedures for Historic District Designation] . - City of Houston. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document). - Retrieved: 2008-07-11] to James Addison Baker Jr. (1892-1973) and Ethel Bonner (née Means) Baker (August 6, 1894-April 26, 1991). His father was a partner of Houston law firm Baker Botts. Baker has a sister, Bonner Baker Moffitt. ["Mother of Secretary of State Baker dies here at 96". - "Houston Chronicle". - April 26, 1991. - Retrieved: 2008-07-11]

Baker attended The Hill School, a boarding school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton University in 1952. Afterwards, he earned a J.D. (1957) from the University of Texas at Austin and began to practice law in Texas. [ [http://www.hwwilson.com/currentbio/cover_bios/cover_bio_3_07.htm James A. Baker, 3rd] , "Current Biography", March 2007. Accessed December 25, 2007. "Like his father, Jim Baker, as he prefers to be known, attended the Hill School, a college prep school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, then enrolled at Princeton University."]

Early political career

Baker served in the United States Marine Corps (1952-1954), attaining the rank of First Lieutenant and later rising to Captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

From 1957 to 1969, and then from 1973 to 1975 he practiced law at the law firm of Andrews & Kurth.

Baker's first wife, the former Mary Stuart McHenry, was very active in the Republican Party, working on the congressional campaigns of George H. W. Bush. Originally he had been a Democrat. But, previously Baker had been too busy trying to succeed in a competitive law to worry about politics, and he considered himself apolitical. Mary's influence and enthusiasm led Baker to both politics as a career and the Republican Party. He was a regular tennis partner with Bush at the Houston Country Club in the late 1950s. When Bush decided to run for the Senate in 1969, he decided to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Bush, with Bush's support. But, then Mary Stuart was diagnosed with cancer, he changed his mind. Mary Baker died of breast cancer in February 1970. Bush then encouraged Baker to get active to deal with the grief. Something Bush knew something about and had done when his daughter, Pauline Robinson (1949–1953), died of leukemia. Baker became chairman of Bush's Harris County Campaign. And even though Bush lost to Lloyd Bentsen, he became the Republican Party of Texas Finance Chairman in 1971. The following year he selected as the Gulf Coast Regional Chairman for the Richard Nixon presidential campaign. For 1973 and 1974 Baker returned to practicing law full-time at Andrews & Kurth.Newhouse, John. - "Profiles: The Tactician". - "The New Yorker". - May 7, 1990. - pp.50-82. - Retrieved 2008-07-11] [http://diglib.princeton.edu/ead/eadGetDoc.xq%3fxsl=/ead/xsl/ead2005.pdf%26id=/ead/mudd/publicpolicy/MC197.EAD.xml%26query=%26mime=.pdf "Biography of James Baker"] . - Princeton University Library. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document). - Retrieved: 2008-07-11]

He served as Undersecretary of Commerce under President Gerald Ford in 1975 and ran Ford's unsuccessful re-election campaign in 1976. In 1978, Baker ran unsuccessfully to become State Attorney General of Texas, having been defeated by future Governor Mark Wells White.

Reagan administration

After serving as George H.W. Bush's campaign manager in the 1980 Republican primaries, Baker was named White House Chief of Staff by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He served in that capacity until 1985. Baker is seen as wielding a high degree of influence over the successes and failures of the first Reagan administration, particularly in domestic policy.

Baker managed the president's 1984 re-election campaign which Reagan won with a record 525 electoral votes total (of 538 possible), and received 58.8% of the popular vote to Mondale's 40.6%. [ [http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1984 1984 National Results] - U.S. Election Atlas] In the new administration Baker "switched roles" with Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan, who replaced Baker as Chief of Staff. While serving as Treasury Secretary, he organized the Plaza Accord of September 1985 and the Baker Plan to target international debt. He tapped Richard Darman as his deputy secretary of the treasury. Darman would continue in the next administration as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

During the Reagan administration Baker also served on the Economic Policy Council, where he played an instrumental role in achieving the passage of the administration's tax and budget reform legislation package in 1981.

Baker served on Reagan's National Security Council, and remained Treasury Secretary through 1988, during which year he also served as campaign chairman for Bush's successful presidential bid.

Bush administration

George H.W. Bush appointed Baker Secretary of State in 1989. Baker served in this role through 1992.

On January 9, 1991, during the Geneva Peace Conference with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Baker declared that "If there is any user of (chemical or biological weapons), our objectives won't just be the liberation of Kuwait, but the elimination of the current Iraqi regime...". Baker later acknowledged that the intent of this statement was to imply the threat of a unilateral nuclear strike on Iraq's homeland. [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plague/interviews/baker.html Plague war: Interviews: James Baker] . - "Frontline". - PBS. - 1995] [2000. - [http://books.google.com/books?id=s99RxDhaw9AC&pg=PA69&lpg=PA69&ots=H2f6TlxaCh&sig=H6CpiQvvwVAEiDmkVmdh2tkNoYI "Sadam's Toxic Arsenal"] . - "Planning the Unthinkable". - ISBN 0801437768]

Baker helped to construct the 34-nation alliance that fought alongside the United States in the Gulf War.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991. From 1992 to 1993, he served as Bush's White House Chief of Staff, the same position that he had held during the first Reagan administration.

Post-cabinet career


In 1993 Baker became the founding chair of the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

In 1995 Baker published his memoirs of service as Secretary of State in a book entitled "The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989-1992" (ISBN 0-399-14087-5).

In March 1997 Baker became the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara. ["U.N. ENVOY: Asking Baker to resolve dispute is good choice". - "Houston Chronicle". - March 20, 1997] In June 2004 he resigned from this position, frustrated over the lack of progress in reaching a complete settlement acceptable to both the government of Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front. He left behind the Baker II plan, accepted as a suitable basis of negotiations by the Polisario and unanimously endorsed by the Security Council, but rejected by Morocco.

In addition to the numerous recognitions received by Baker, he was presented with the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Award for public service on September 13, 2000 in Washington DC.


Baker served as chief legal adviser for George W. Bush during the 2000 election campaign and oversaw the Florida recount. A 2008 film "Recount" was made about the days following the election. During the making of the film Baker was interviewed.

"State of Denial", a book by investigative reporter Bob Woodward, says that White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, urged President Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with Baker following the 2004 election.


On March 15, 2006, Congress announced the formation of the Iraq Study Group, a high-level panel of prominent former officials charged by members of Congress with taking a fresh look at America's policy on Iraq. Baker was the Republican co-chair along with Democratic Representative Lee H. Hamilton, to advise Congress on Iraq.Paley, Amit R. - [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/08/AR2006100800267.html "U.S. and Iraqi Forces Clash With Sadr Militia in South"] . - "Washington Post". - October 9, 2006] Baker also advised George W. Bush on Iraq. [ [http://www.insightmag.com/Media/MediaManager/Baker.htm "Baker surfaces as key adviser to Bush on Iraq"] . - "Insight Magazine". - September 12, 2006]

The Iraq Study Group examined a number of ideas, including one that would create a new power-sharing arrangement in Iraq that would give more autonomy to regional factions.Sanger, David E. - "G.O.P.'s Baker Hints Iraq Plan Needs Change". - "New York Times". - October 9, 2006] On October 9, 2006, the "Washington Post" quoted co-chairman Baker as saying "our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run'". Reiterating that there are alternatives in Iraq for the United States other than the "stay-the-course" policy of the Bush administration.

Other advisory positions

Baker has formal involvement with the country of Azerbaijan as he serves on the Honorary Council of Advisers for the U.S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce. [ [http://www.usacc.org/contents.php?cid=2 Honorary Council of Advisers] ] [ [http://www.usacc.org/ U.S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce] ]

Until 2005 he was senior counsel to the Carlyle Group and is currently a senior partner at the law firm of Baker Botts.

Personal life

Baker met his first wife, the former Mary Stuart McHenry, of Dayton, Ohio, while on spring break in Bermuda with the Princeton University rugby team. They married in 1953. Mary Baker died of breast cancer in February 1970.

Susan Garrett Winston, who had been a close friend of Mary Stuart's, and the two were married in 1973. He and his wife, the former Susan Garrett, have six sons and two daughters.

On June 15, 2002, Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7-year-old granddaughter of Baker, daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, was the victim of suction-pump entrapment in an in-ground spa. [Dumas, Bob. - [http://www.poolspanews.com/2003/102/102entrapment.html "Troubled Waters"] - "Pool & Spa News". - October 2003] To promote greater safety in pools and spas, Nancy Baker gave testimony to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, [Chow, Shern-Min. - [http://www.vac-alert.com/EntrapmentArticle23.html "Former Secretary of state pushes for hot tub safety standards"] . - Vac-Alert. - June 29, 2007] and James Baker helped formed an advocacy group, [Press Releases: [http://www.usa.safekids.org/tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=22070&folder_id=300 "Former Secretary of State James Baker speaks in support of legislation intended to prevent accidental drowning"] . - Safe Kids Worldwide. - May 2, 2006] which led to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (15 USC 8001). [ [http://www.cpsc.gov/pssa.pdf "Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act"] . - Consumer Product Safety Commission. - | [http://www.vac-alert.com/documents/cpsc_staff_interpretations_tradefinal.pdf at - Vac-Alert] . - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)]

Further reading

Works by

* 1995: - "The Politics of Diplomacy". with Thomas M DeFrank. - New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. - ISBN 9780399140877
* 2006: - " 'Work Hard, Study... And Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life". with Steve Fiffer. - New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. - ISBN 9780399153778

Works about

*Bryce, Robert, (2004). - "Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate". - New York: Perseus Books Group. - ISBN 9781586481889


External links

* [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15674301/site/newsweek/ "What the Baker Commission is Ignoring"]
* [http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2006/11/27/news/16726.shtml Profile in the Daily Princetonian]
* [http://www.bakerbotts.com/lawyers/detail.aspx?id=a1789334-3f27-48d5-b844-211455e4beff Biography on Baker Botts LLP website]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1325971,00.html Article in the Guardian]
* [http://www.bakerinstitute.org Baker Institute for Public Policy]
* [http://www.booktv.org/feature/index.asp?segid=7569&schedID=457 "Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!"] Video of James Baker discussing his memoirs. November 4, 2006.
* [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/troops-out-oil-companies_b_35816.html Troops Out, Oil Companies In: The Baker Agenda?] "Huffington Post" article discussing the possible oil agenda in Iraq.
* [http://www.RecountMovie.com Recount Movie]

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