Sara Fagen, former political director for President George W. Bush, had strong praise for her old boss at an event Tuesday morning, saying the Bush campaign and White House were so good for women staffers, she didn't realize sexism still existed in the workplace.
"I saw Condi Rice and Karen Hughes and Nicolle Wallace, and all these terrific women that were around President Bush," Fagen told the audience at the event, put on by the Atlantic at the W Hotel. "He listened to them, he trusted the, they were in his inner circle."
When Fagen left the White House in 2007, she had been with Bush for eight years. "I read these stories about sexism and [thought] that's over now," she said, adding, "I left feeling it was women before me who had to deal with that, and I got into the private economy, and I thought, oh my God."
Fagen, now DDC Advocacy's chief political strategist, explained to Yeas & Nays that she's found the private sector to have a "different dynamic" for women workers. "You still encounter some of those generational attitudes," she said. "I never once felt I was being treated differently as a girl in the Bush White House. I have felt that way outside the White House."
It's not just Bush who deserves credit for supporting women, according to Fagen. "Karl Rove does too," she said. "He hired a lot of women. I think Democrats and liberals have this view that he's this Machiavellian demon -- he really is an incredible person to work for."
Fagen's counterpart at the event was Anita Dunn, former White House communications director for President Obama. Dunn did not elaborate during the 1.5 hour event on working in the Obama White House, which she previously described as "a genuinely hostile workplace to women."