The bag-handling Washington ‘body man,’ from Doug Band to ‘Veep’s’ Gary

September 24, 2013
65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Best Of LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Tony Hale and winner of Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus speak onstage during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Emmy winner Tony Hale as “body man” to “Veep’s” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus during the broadcast. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Washington audiences could chuckle over one clever bit in the otherwise lackluster Emmys: When Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepted the prize for her “Veep” role, Tony Hale — the actor who plays her personal assistant — hovered behind her on the stage, holding her purse and whispering reminders in her ear.

Ah, the “body man”! While “Veep’s” Gary may be a joke on TV, in real life the lowly-but-conspicuous job of bag-handler to a Washington power player is often a stepping stone to a big-deal career, as we’re reminded by the trajectory of Doug Band — a former Clinton White House peon, whose rise to power within the ex-president’s foundation is scrutinized by an exhaustive New Republic profile this week — or Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s long-time right hand.

Most body men stayed in the shadows until the media discovered Reggie Love, the charismatic former Duke basketball player who spent five ubiquitous years at the side of Barack Obama, like a real-life Charlie from “The West Wing.”

ReggieLove, an aide to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., carries bags to the car in Memphis Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Reggie Love carries bags in 2008. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

“The real risk of being the body man is that you stay too long,” said Tim McBride, who served George H.W. Bush for five years starting at age 26. It’s an exhilarating experience, but at some point every body man realizes it’s time to move on. McBride remembers thinking: “I’m living this very exciting life, but it’s not mine.” It got him a lot of job interviews — everyone wanted to hear his stories — but “part of the challenge is being taken seriously.”

But most body men, including McBride, leveraged the gig into successful business careers. Love left the White House for Wharton Business School and now gives motivational speeches. Former caddy Marvin Nicholson, John Kerry’s body man during the 2004 campaign, is now a White House staffer and regular golf buddy of the president. Blake Gottesman, personal aide to George W. Bush (after a stint as Jenna’s high school boyfriend), left the White House for Harvard Business School — amazingly without an undergrad degree — and is now a senior partner at a Boston private equity firm.

SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON POST--Doug Band, center, advisor to President Bill Clinton, looks on during a campaign stop at the University of Denver for the Democratic presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Doug Band during the 2008 presidential race. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)

And Clinton aides? Abedin, of course, wed Anthony Weiner but is back on Team Hillary after his disastrous mayor campaign. Band parlayed those Bill Clinton connections into a lucrative consulting gig. As one former White House colleague told the New Republic: “Doug has always been reasonably commercial, let’s just say. . . He was a gatekeeper who charged tolls.”

 

Related, at The Fix: Meet Doug Band: Why you need to know about Bill Clinton’s former body man

 

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President Obama’s return to the CBC is sweeter than last

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