There are generally two types of people who populate the back offices of powerful men and women who hold elective office – call them aides, advisers or whatever you will – but two types predominate.
First and foremost, there are the “briefcase toters” – i.e., they function essentially to tote the briefcase of the elected official, to fetch him or her water or coffee, to laugh at his or her jokes and to remember that the answer to almost every question is: “Yes, sir (or ma’am), you’re absolutely right.”
But beyond that group of “briefcase toters” exist the people who in great measure make government at all levels work. They are the staffers who crunch and re-crunch the numbers, who possess the courage to tell the boss that he’s wrong when he or she is and who try to test and examine public policy to see who it helps, who it hurts and whether or not it works.
The good news is that Jim Perry, the 31-year-old policy director for Gov. Haley Barbour, is nobody’s briefcase toter. The bad news is that he’s leaving public service this week to become a public finance banker with Morgan Stanley in New York.