White House Counsel's Star Rises with Health Care Compromise

White House counsel Bob Bauer helped President Obama win passage of his health care legislation by negotiating an executive order banning abortion funding.

Throughout the process, Bauer’s “political skills were as much on display as his legal ones, not to mention his diplomatic and nurturing ones,” the Washington Post reports. Colleagues told the newspaper that Bauer is skilled because his recommendations address not only what is legal, but also what is realistic.

The story notes that the White House counsel’s office has become “a career graveyard in recent years” and says Bauer’s success will depend on his ability to sustain the same kind of diplomacy. His challenges include “an unpredictable whack-a-mole caseload, with new headaches every day,” the story says. Nearly half of his time is taken up with national security issues that are fraught with political peril.

Bauer is a former Perkins Coie lawyer who was President Obama’s personal and campaign lawyer. The newspaper describes him as “bearded and talkative” with a “mischievous sense of humor” and a love of puns.

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