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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be at the heart of White House communications? How does one navigate the turbulent waters of political journalism?

Dana Perino’s And the Good News Is…: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side details her unlikely and inspiring journey from Wyoming to Washington. She provides an insider’s view of life as a White House Press Secretary and a Fox News journalist.

Continue reading to discover valuable lessons in leadership, civility, and staying true to your values.

And the Good News Is…: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side

Dana Perino’s And the Good News Is…: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side provides an intimate look at her professional journey—from her upbringing in Wyoming to becoming White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush. Recounting her experiences in the communications battlefield, she reflects on key lessons in effective leadership, civility amid political divides, and the enduring conservative values that have guided her life and career.

The book also chronicles Perino’s transition into broadcast journalism at Fox News. Here, she imparts wisdom on finding common ground across the political aisle and staying true to principles amidst a changing social landscape. Throughout the narrative, Perino urges readers to champion grace, humility, and a spirit of open-mindedness in all their pursuits.

From Rural Roots to Political Heights

Dana Perino’s life story is a testament to the power of determination and the American dream. Her journey from a humble countryside upbringing to a prominent position in the government demonstrates that one’s origins need not dictate their future.

Early Years & Childhood

Growing up on her family’s ranch, Perino developed a deep appreciation for traditional values, self-reliance, and freedom. Although she and her sister weren’t permanent residents, they often helped their cousins with various chores across the sprawling property. These experiences, from tending to young cattle to ensuring water supplies were full, shaped her character and instilled quintessential American principles.

Perino’s childhood was filled with both typical rural experiences and unique adventures. She recalls her apprehension about collecting eggs from an intimidating hen, as well as the joy of hunting for dinosaur fossils and sledding down gullies, despite the potential dangers. These memories add depth to her story of growing up surrounded by experiences that fostered a strong sense of American values.

The influence of her family was paramount in shaping Perino’s worldview. Her father and grandparents played crucial roles in developing her understanding of politics, economics, and contemporary issues. Through meaningful discussions and shared experiences, they nurtured her patriotic spirit and conservative beliefs. Perino’s great-grandmother Rosie’s journey to America and subsequent life epitomized the American dream, further instilling a sense of national pride.

Perino’s conservative convictions were solidified by reading Peggy Noonan’s book “What I Saw at the Revolution,” which helped her recognize that her political stance aligned with her identity as a woman.

School Years & Personal Growth

During her high school years, Perino’s involvement in the debate club proved transformative. This experience not only fostered a sense of community but also honed her skills in critical thinking, persuasion, and public speaking. These abilities would later enable her to overcome fears and uncertainties in her professional life.

Perino credits her success in communications and journalism to this pivotal time, which equipped her with the capabilities and self-assurance necessary to advance her career. The guidance from her mentor to channel nervousness into constructive enthusiasm profoundly shaped her public speaking methods and subsequent professional endeavors.

Despite facing challenges and peer pressure in school, Perino’s experiences likely aided her in developing strategies to manage stress and self-doubt. Her journey from feeling anxious in challenging situations to triumphing in contests showcases her growing self-assurance, a trait that would prove invaluable throughout her career.

Early Career & Professional Development

Upon arriving in Washington D.C., Perino secured her first role managing guest arrivals and phone calls at the Capitol. Demonstrating initiative, she actively sought opportunities beyond her office duties by volunteering as a tour guide and participating in policy-focused events. This passion for policy not only satisfied her intellectual curiosity but also expanded her professional network, laying the groundwork for future success.

A pivotal moment came when an old Capitol Hill friend, Mindy Tucker, recommended Perino for a spokesperson role in the Bush campaign in California. Following the September 11 events, Perino broadened her career horizons by transitioning to the Department of Justice, taking on diverse responsibilities.

At the DOJ, Perino eagerly embraced duties that others avoided, including environmental matters. Her exceptional performance in these roles made her a valuable asset, and she quickly capitalized on emerging opportunities. For instance, when Tim Rutten informed her of an opening as a representative for the House, she swiftly pursued and secured the position.

Perino’s experience working within the corridors of legislative power provided her with essential skills and knowledge in government communication. Her ability to handle complex and high-profile issues at the DOJ, overseeing critical legal matters pertaining to prominent American corporations and environmental challenges, showcased her resilience and capacity to excel in high-pressure, fast-paced environments.

Throughout her journey, Perino demonstrated a willingness to take risks and embrace unexpected opportunities. Her spontaneous decision to relocate with her husband Peter, even without a detailed plan, exemplifies her readiness to pursue personal growth and fulfillment, themes that consistently emerge throughout her memoir.

Perino at the White House

Dana Perino’s path to the White House began unexpectedly in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Despite having little prior experience, she seized an opportunity to join the Bush Administration, quickly proving her worth through dedication and steadiness. As a result, she earned the President’s trust and reliance, all while overcoming feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome.

The tragic events of September 11 catalyzed Perino’s ascent to a prominent role in the White House. Her former colleague, Mindy, recognizing their effective collaboration in Congress, reached out for assistance with the overwhelmed public affairs division at the Justice Department. Without hesitation, Perino packed her bags that evening, eager to support the governing officials. Her unwavering commitment soon led to her appointment as a director on the White House team responsible for environmental quality, bringing her closer to the heart of presidential communications.

As Perino continued to excel in her role, her engagement in White House communication efforts and presence at Dan Bartlett’s meetings garnered increased trust from the administration. Her steadfast dedication and deep understanding of ecological issues propelled her career forward, first becoming the spokesperson for Karl Rove and eventually ascending to the position of Scott McClellan’s second-in-command.

Perino as White House Press Secretary

The transition from an assistant position to the esteemed role of Press Secretary presented its own unique challenges. Perino grappled with self-doubt, questioning her capabilities when chosen for this prestigious position. However, President Bush’s unwavering confidence in her qualifications subtly affirmed her suitability for the role, encouraging her to confront her insecurities and embrace the responsibilities that came with it.

Throughout her tenure, Perino handled the intense workload, rapid pace, and stress of her position with remarkable poise and grace. She prioritized her responsibilities to the President above all else, sometimes at the expense of her own well-being. Recognizing her duty as a formal representative of the administration, she meticulously prepared for each task. Additionally, the President’s approach of not allowing minor issues to escalate into significant concerns helped Perino maintain her composure under the intense public scrutiny that accompanied her role.

Perino & President Bush: Lessons in Leadership and Grace

Dana Perino’s experiences working alongside President George W. Bush offer valuable insights into his leadership style, the significant relationships he formed, and the important lessons she learned about maintaining grace and poise during times of political turmoil.

Behind the scenes, Perino witnessed Bush’s sincere and steadfast leadership firsthand. She observed his meticulous attention to key audiences such as allies, adversaries, and military personnel, ensuring that his actions and rhetoric would not dampen the morale of the troops. Perino shares anecdotes that illustrate President Bush’s principled leadership, often displayed beyond the public view.

One such example was Bush’s composed reaction after a shoe was thrown at him during an event. He continued calmly, maintaining a semblance of normality and demonstrating his unwavering commitment to leadership. Similarly, at a private dinner with Israeli representatives, Bush upheld a firm stance on the peace process, underscoring the importance of resolving conflicts peacefully.

President Bush keenly understood the impact his language could have on various listeners and placed a strong emphasis on boosting the spirits of American soldiers. Perino noted the profound effect his speeches had upon Navy SEALs and DEVGRU (Naval Special Warfare Development Group), as well as the intense emotional responses they provoked among those present. Consistently, Bush showed unwavering commitment to promoting global peace and stability, often conveying significant messages to active duty military members, with little regard for his eventual place in history.

Under President Bush’s guidance, Perino learned the importance of forgiving others and not dwelling on harsh criticism. She gained valuable insight into focusing on individual duties rather than preoccupations with legacy, and understanding how personal behavior affects different groups of significance.

Perino’s relationship with President Bush and his family grew beyond professional boundaries, considering them as additional paternal influences and collaborators on her journey. She recounts intimate anecdotes that showcase the President’s sincere interest in the well-being of his staff members. For instance, after Perino was struck by a shoe during an incident, Bush made thoughtful inquiries about her condition, revealing a compassionate bond that surpassed their professional interactions.

The President’s empathy extended to personal matters as well. He took a genuine interest in the familial histories and private affairs of his team members, creating a warm and supportive environment. Perino shares a touching story where President Bush made a considerate move by recognizing Jenny Korn’s partner on television, allowing their children to see it – a small but meaningful gesture that exemplified his individualized consideration.

In an increasingly divisive political climate, Perino admires the unwavering elegance and steadfast commitment to avoid personal retaliation that characterized President Bush’s time in office. His counsel on the importance of forgiving others and being a role model inspired Perino to tackle difficult circumstances with grace and calmness.

Reflecting on her experiences, Perino recalls instances when she, along with the President, chose to exercise self-control instead of responding to provocation. She embraced a tactic similar to Bush’s, which included finding humor in disparaging comments and taking breaks from social media instead of responding to severe critiques.

By watching President Bush consistently prioritize forgiveness, especially towards his critics, Perino learned to manage personal insults and negative remarks effectively. She gained the insight to progress constructively, avoiding the trap of resentment, and demonstrated politeness, particularly during the most challenging times.

Perino’s Media Career

After serving as a White House spokesperson, Dana Perino embarked on a new path in the broadcasting industry, where she established herself as a television pundit and secured a consistent role at Fox News.

At Fox News, Perino found a different stage to showcase her communication skills. She embraced a sincere demeanor, infused with a sense of levity whenever she appeared on television. Striking a balance between being forthright and maintaining politeness, Perino demonstrated that individuals holding diverse opinions could still collaborate effectively, thus motivating emerging professionals to chase their dreams.

Upon starting her role with Fox News, Perino discovered a novel way to utilize her expertise. She joined The Five, a panel-style show originally conceived by Fox News chief Roger Ailes in the wake of a notable personality’s exit. Ailes envisioned a program that mirrored the interactions of relatives conversing about the day’s happenings during a shared meal.

Initially, Perino found it challenging to shift from her formal spokesperson role to a more individual persona. However, her authentic and positive demeanor greatly appealed to viewers while she co-hosted The Five. She distinguished herself by becoming the first female whose words were censored during the broadcast. Perino’s television presence was significantly influenced by her ability to blend humor with a subtle display of annoyance, while also humorously minimizing her own importance.

As she assumed her new position, Perino adeptly balanced assertiveness with courtesy. She shared her viewpoints using a congenial manner and polite conduct, which allowed her to introduce new concepts while maintaining good relations with her listeners. Her method of promoting politeness underscored her conviction that upholding dignity is crucial, especially during intense discussions broadcasted live.

Promoting Positive Principles & Bipartisanship

Although specific examples are not provided, the text suggests that Perino aimed to use her platform to demonstrate cooperation across different viewpoints and promote an optimistic outlook on American resilience. She consistently recognized the weight and obligation of her role when providing her perspectives during television appearances. By highlighting similarities rather than differences, Perino believed that constructive collaboration could be achieved.

Throughout her media career, she endeavored to demonstrate that people with varying viewpoints could still participate in respectful dialogue and collaborate on finding solutions. Her unwavering commitment to her values was evident in how she shared her opinions on The Five.

Perino’s transition from her role in government to a significant position at a major news network serves as an example to those with ambitions. Her success demonstrates the importance of being present at the right time, fully prepared, and willing to take advantage of new opportunities. While the book stops short of providing explicit advice from Perino, it acts as a motivational force, inspiring people to chase their dreams and ambitions in their careers.

The Foundations of Perino’s Conservative Worldview

Dana Perino’s perspectives on American politics, shaped by her dedication to civility, bipartisan cooperation, and staunch conservative values, offer valuable insights into strategies for bridging divides and enhancing national discourse.

Perino’s conservative perspective is rooted in a dedication to personal liberty and a firm adherence to fundamental principles. Her upbringing, steeped in conservative and libertarian values, served as a safeguard amidst the widely held liberal views common among media outlets. Later, her time at university solidified her conservative political leanings, which were further strengthened by reading materials from writers such as Peggy Noonan.

At the core of Perino’s ideology is an unwavering commitment to time-honored ethical values, rather than a situational moral compass. She equates conservatism with the principles of self-governance, accountability, and an openness to engage in rational discussion. Furthermore, Perino advocates for a conservative approach that emphasizes pragmatism and receptiveness to diverse perspectives.

In contrast to the often gloomy portrayal seen in press reports, Perino characterizes conservatives as having a perspective that is both hopeful and perceptive. She believes that demonstrating kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and maintaining a sense of humor along with a clear conscience are fundamental to conservative values. This approach, in her view, fosters a mindset of autonomy grounded in core values while maintaining an openness to dialogue and facts.

The Decline in Civil Political Discourse

Perino expresses deep concern about the deterioration of civil discourse across the United States. She observes a growing divide and identifies the erosion of courteous behavior as a key problem. The confidence once associated with America’s role as a global leader is now overshadowed by persistent disputes and waning trust in government institutions.

While determining who’s accountable for this decline could fill an entire book, Perino emphasizes the importance of restoring civility. She acknowledges that the escalation of rudeness originates from political factions across the entire spectrum. However, Perino contends that civility should allow for vehement arguments, proposing that confrontation and clashing ideas can lead to clearer understanding when conducted respectfully and with a solution-oriented approach.

Reflecting on the underlying causes of civility’s erosion, Perino considers the significance of virtues like kindness and benevolence in contemporary society. She partly attributes the intensification of political discussions to the behavior of prominent media figures. Through personal anecdotes, Perino conveys her concern about the stark contrast between the current political climate and the more respectful atmosphere she encountered while serving in the White House.

Perino’s Call to Bridge Our Political Divide

To address these challenges, Perino emphasizes the importance of forgiveness, compassion, and striving for mutual understanding. She exemplifies courtesy in every interaction, deliberately avoiding political discussions in casual settings to maintain amicable relations. Perino underscores the importance of selecting words with precision and avoiding unnecessary conflicts, while also advocating for the practice of nightly reflection on forgiveness.

Actively promoting respectful conversation, Perino encourages people to positively influence their local environment. She illustrates the art of engaging in constructive dissent, opting for responses that foster progress rather than contentious comebacks. Drawing from her experiences in the White House, Perino demonstrates how it’s possible to maintain civil discourse and mutual respect despite deep political divisions.

In conclusion, Perino encourages individuals to develop improved habits that can enhance the quality of public conversation and help bridge the gaps in political polarization. By championing civility, embracing conservative values, and promoting understanding across party lines, Perino offers a blueprint for a more constructive and unified political landscape.Add to Conversation

Dana Perino’s And the Good News Is… (Book Overview)

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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