More on Dubya, Reyn Archer, and the Commissioner of Love

Are you open to your brokenness? Apparently Dr. William Reynolds “Reyn” Archer is. Archer, the son of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, was recruited by George W. Bush in 1997 to be Texas health commissioner. Reyn, a New-Agey, Christian-right ob/gyn, got himself put on leave by babbling to his African-American “Commissioner of Love” about how she needed to be open to her brokenness in the same way that a black Mississippi washerwoman photographed by Annie Leibovitz was open to her brokenness. (To read Chatterbox’s earlier item explaining why Archer had a Commissioner of Love, and summarizing previous Archer misadventures, click here. To read the breathtakingly weird transcript of Archer’s conversation with his Commissioner of Love, who, after getting fired, filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and leaked her clandestinely recorded tape of the conversation to the Houston Chronicle, click here.) Now, having finally lost Dubya’s loyal support (and after editorial prompting by the Austin American-Statesman), Archer has resigned.

Today’s Houston Chronicle puts Archer’s resignation on Page One, but the Washington Post and New York Times and the Los Angeles Times all give it the quick-squib treatment, and the Wall Street Journal doesn’t carry it at all. Chatterbox questions the national press’ wisdom in downplaying this story. (Are they open to their brokenness?) Aside from being rip-roaringly entertaining–you really have to read this transcript to believe it–the Reyn Archer saga speaks to Dubya’s ability to compensate for his own lack of policy smarts by appointing capable leaders to key cabinet posts. The more you look at Reyn Archer, the more you wonder precisely what it was that recommended him to Dubya, aside from the obvious fact of his being a legacy pledge. (In addition to being Bill Archer’s offspring, Reyn was deputy assistant secretary for health in Bush pere’s Health and Human Services department.) The urgency of this question is magnified by Bush’s tendency to take a passive stance toward his appointees once they assume office, as described by T. Christian Miller in an Oct. 8 story in the Los Angeles Times. Would the governing principle of Dubya’s presidential appointments be “any old friend of so-and-so is a friend of mine”? This would seem at least as important a story as the daily on-scene reports we’re getting of Al Gore and George W. Bush painting the toenails of undecided voters.