Evan Smith: You leave the Bush White House and you come back to Austin? You couldn’t find someplace a little more different?
Dan Bartlett: After being in Austin for a few days, it quickly reminded [my wife and me] of everything we loved about the city. I will say, though, that my experience personally in Washington was better than I anticipated.
ES: How’s that?
DB: We were able to carve out a private life there and develop strong friendships in a climate for raising children that I thought didn’t exist. We gravitated toward people who were generally from the South—some Texans, some from Louisiana, others from Arkansas—and the Midwest. People who were like-minded, raised similarly, and were in Washington for the same reason we were. We were all somewhat involved in politics but had a lot better time talking about hunting or the football game that weekend. I was a bit surprised that we were able to do that. But at the end of the day, in the broad scope of things, it was an easy decision to return home.
ES: How hard was it to leave professionally? Someone who’s been in your position presumably has many opportunities there.
DB: The immediate detox was difficult. When you’ve been operating at that speed for