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Tevi D. Troy

Basic Facts

Position: Deputy Secretary, U.S Department of Health and Human Services. 
Area of Research: American political and intellectual history, 20th-century American conservatism, U.S. Presidency. 
Education: Ph.D., American Civilization, University of Texas at Austin, 1996. B.S., Cornell University, 1989. 
Major Publications: Tevi Troy is the author of Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians Tevi D. Troy JPG(Rowman & Littlefield, 2002).
He has also contributed a book chapter "All the President's Brains," in Public Intellectuals: An Endangered Species?, Amitai Etzioni and Alyssa Bowditch, eds., (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). 
Troy also regularly contributes editorials and book reviews for National Review Online, and has written for the mainstream media including such publications as The Wall Street JournalPolicy ReviewThe New RepublicWashington TimesInvestor's Business DailyThe Weekly StandardNational Review, and Reason among others. He has also written for academic journals including The Hoover Institution's "Perspectives in Political Science." 
Awards: Troy is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
University Fellow, University of Texas;
Salvatori Fellow, Heritage Foundation;
Publius Fellow, Claremont Institute;
Herman Kahn Fellow, Hudson Institute;
Claude R Lambe Fellow, Institute for Human Studies;
Young Leadership Award, American Friends of Lubavitch. 
Additional Info: 
From 2005 to 2007, Troy served as Deputy Assistant to President Bush for Domestic Policy, and from 2003 to 2004 was Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Cabinet Secretary and the White House liaison to the Jewish community. He also served as deputy director of policy for George W. Bush's re-election campaign in 2004. 
Troy began working in the Bush administration at the Department of Labor, where he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and the Director of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives.
Troy served as the Policy Director for Senator John Ashcroft. From 1996 to 1998, Troy was Senior Domestic Policy Adviser and later Domestic Policy Director for the House Policy Committee, chaired by Christopher Cox. 
He has also been the Herman Kahn Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Indianapolis and a Researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. 

Personal Anecdote

I still remember reading how in the 1980s the newest issues of the New Republic would go straight from the printer to the West Wing of the White House. I was fascinated by how intellectuals moved their ideas from the academic world to the political. In graduate school, I first tried to do a study of books that made a difference in shaping political leadership decisions. I examined how books like Michael Harrington's The Other America or Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mindinfluenced elected leaders. What I found was that it is very hard to prove that a president actually read an important book, let alone assimilated its ideas. What I could prove, however, was which books were recommended to presidents and who recommended them. This led to the discovery that in every administration since President Kennedy at least one person has been charged (or charged himself) with the role of keeping the president and his senior staff informed of intellectual developments in the wider culture. 

Tevi D. Troy JPG

For my doctoral dissertation, I decided to investigate the important role of intellectuals inside and outside the White House. This work became my first book Intellectuals and the American Presidency. After completing my dissertation, I found that my interest in ideas in politics opened doors into the political world. Over the last decade, I have worked in a series of policy-development roles. I have worked on Capitol Hill, for several executive agencies, and at the White House. My prior doctoral research gave me a real insight into how future historians would view the documents I was preparing and submitting. It made me aware of my responsibility to future historians as I drafted critical documents. 

My academic interests and public service came full circle at the White House. As part of my job in the administration, I was able to sit in on a number of meetings that the president held with small groups of prominent historians to discuss world history, current events, and long-term trends. Right before one of these meetings, Karl Rove brought the historians into his office and we started discussing the role of intellectuals and the presidency. Rove looked over at me and said: "Wait a minute, this guy wrote the book on the subject." At that moment, I thought back and I realized I could have never planned anything like this when I was in grad school. 


By Tevi D. Troy

  • " . . . the American presidency remains the most powerful post in the Western world. Presidents preside over a $9 trillion-plus economy, a $2 trillion government, a $300 billion military, and a huge staff of aides focused on serving the president's every whim. The president has image makes, press experts, and policy makers, all devoted to the cause of making the president look good. Yet presidents, for all their power, do not control Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians JPGwhat goes in the history books, which is shaped by the almost equally incontrollable media reports that appear with ever increasing rapidity. The do not even control their own approval ratings, what are of the utmost concern to presidents, not to mention their opponents.

    This situation makes presidents, for all their power, extremely vulnerable. As a result, they understandably seek some magic elixir that can help shape their image among the voting public, the scribbling classes, and the history books. If they cannot confer a positive image on a president, they can certainly help sully a president's image. Lyndon Johnson, for example, was one of the most powerful presidents of modern times, both in his understanding of the power of the office and his willingness to use that power. Yet he stood powerless against the campaign waged against him by intellectuals, most of whom probably belonged to his own party. And Johnson recognized his impotence on this front. As the Nation put it at the time, "Johnson was not oblivious to the fact that widespread antagonism among thoughtful citizens can be unhealthy for any President." As Johnson and later Nixon learned, this unhealthiness can prove politically fatal.

    As a result of these pressures, presidents look to intellectuals to help define their presidency. Presidents do this by paying attention at some level to what intellectuals are doing and by addressing intellectuals and intellectual developments in some fashion. The approach they take can vary, especially between Democrats and Republicans, but they must address the issue. If presidents are the lions of American politics, intellectuals are the mice. While the lions can smite the mice, the mice have the potential to remove -- or insert -- the thorn in the lion's paw.
    -- Tevi D. Troy in "Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians"
  • About Tevi D. Troy

  • "Intellectuals have been attaching themselves to the White House since the New Deal, and presidents have been attaching themselves to intellectuals, with results that have at times been amusing, at times infuriating, and even at times--though not many--mutally rewarding, yet apart from a handful of memoirs by egghead lapdogs the subject of this peculiar relationship has been widely ignored. Tevi Troy fills this void." -- Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
  • "In fact, intellectuals are so important to the American presidency that U.S. presidents 'ignore the intellectuals at their peril.' This is the thesis of Tevi Troy's important and absorbing book Intellectuals and the American Presidency." -- The Public Interest
  • "Intellectuals and the American Presidency is a lively tale and well told, and certainly not meant for academics only. . . . It's all here and much more as Mr. Troy describes the changing presidency, the intellectuals' role in presidential politics, and the ever mutating media. It's quite a ride." -- The Washington Times
  • "Tevi Troy's engaging Intellectuals and the American Presidency chronicles, among much else, FDR's 'brain trust,' the academic sycophants of Kennedy's Camelot, and the thinkers who gave George W. Bush his 'compassionate conservativism' [and] raises questions as old as political philosophy itself: Where should our leaders look for wisdom? Whom should they seek to please?" -- Wall Street Journal
  • "This useful and interesting book highlights an important element in presidential politics and is recommended for those interested in the presidency and the history of ideas" -- Michael Genovese, Library Journal
  • "In this witty and wise study, Tevi Troy tells how modern presidents have increasingly been surrounded, and at times hounded, by academics, writers, and other intellectuals. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 'brain trust' through John F. Kennedy's 'best and brightest' right down to the present, the White House has become a haven both for political operatives who specialize in winning votes and intellectual personalities who specialize in spinning ideas. Troy superbly profiles how presidents from Roosevelt to George W. Bush and their top political advisers have coped, co-opted, or crossed swords with intellectuals. For anyone with a serious interest in how we got where we are in American politics and the presidency, this book is must-reading." -- John J. DiIulio, Jr., former director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
  • "Since the early 1960s, the administrations of each president have brought intellectuals into their folds, with a view toward using their ideas to come up with good public policy. The extent to which they have succeeded--or failed--at this is the subject of Tevi Troy's Intellectuals and the American Presidency, a book that bids fair to become the definitive work on the subject--and which will deliver to its readers some interesting surprises about the role of intellectuals in politics and public policy." -- Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report
  • "As presidential politics grows more superficial, the general assumption is that intellectuals--people who deal in ideas--grow less relevant. Tevi Troy shows how wrong and lazy that assumption is. With striking clarity and in rich historical detail, he reveals that, for better and for worse, intellectuals are crucial to the success and survival of a modern president." -- Peter Beinart, The New Republic
  • "For the politically savvy, Troy's book is a valuable resource as a scholarly study colored with insightful analysis." -- Shira Schoenberg, Jerusalem Post
  • "Tevi Troy's Intellectuals and the American Presidency is original and readable--required reading for intellectuals, Presidents, and the rest of us." -- Ben Wattenberg, American Enterprise Institute
  • "Tevi Troy has done the impossible! He's written an interesting and engaging analysis of the role of White House eggheads without resorting to excessive nudity or violence." -- Jonah Goldberg, syndicated columnist and editor of National Review Online
  • "Tevi Troy has given us a fascinating slice of history, in a well-written, balanced, and meticulously researched package. Intellectuals and the American Presidency provides illumination about both the modern presidency and the role of ideas (and idea people) in American politics and policy." -- Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute
  • "Any man or woman who decides to run for President of the United States would be wise to read Intellectuals and the American Presidency. In his seminal work Tevi Troy identifies and explains the key to a successful presidency--and does so clearly and persuasively. As a Republican I hope Democrats do not read it--but if they do it will be good for our country." -- Martin Anderson, Hoover Institution
  • "Tevi Troy tells the delicious tale of how presidents exploit the ambition and insecurity of intellectuals--or ignore them at their peril. Highly recommended for thinkers who thirst to be on cable t.v." -- Stephen Hess, Brookings Institution
  • "I am pleased to announce that Tevi Troy was sworn in yesterday as the Department's 23rd Deputy Secretary. He brings solid policy experience and expertise to this position, as well as a strong commitment to improving the health of our nation.
    In key leadership roles in the executive and legislative branches, Tevi has contributed much on the issues of health information technology, public health and childhood obesity, food and drug safety, welfare, and family and community services. His strong domestic policy skills, academic background, history of accomplishments, and enthusiasm all combine to make him a tremendous addition to the HHS leadership team. I am delighted to welcome Tevi to the Department and look forward to working closely with him." -- Statement by Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, On the Swearing In of Tevi Troy as HHS Deputy Secretary, August 7, 2007