Introducing Quite By Accident, a podcast about a life in Washington, DC

Brookings scholar Stephen Hess didn’t plan to start working in Eisenhower’s White House at age 25—he began his career at the heart of American politics quite by accident. Hosted by Katie Dunn Tenpas, Hess shares some of his favorite stories from 60 years as a presidential staffer, advisor, and scholar in Washington, D.C.



HESS: I came off a plane from Germany and I’m unemployed and I need a job, and it could be any job in the world, or I could’ve worked for a congressman. I could’ve worked for a ditch digger. And it turns out it’s for the president of the United States. Well, that’s a total fluke. I didn’t plan that.

TENPAS: That’s Brookings scholar Steve Hess, and this is Quite By Accident, a podcast from the Brookings Institution about Steve’s career serving in the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, advising other presidents, and connecting with important political moments and people over the last sixty years.

I’m Katie Dunn Tenpas, a scholar at Brookings and the University of Virginia. In conversations I had with Steve reflecting on the course of his nine decades, it was clear that while he didn’t plan on having a career at the heart of American political power, he ended up having a fascinating one.

HESS: Bit player is the one who plays the piano in Casablanca. It’s not the main actor, but it’s someone on the side. And that sort of turned out to be where I was. And it’s really sort of unusual how seldom I looked for a job.

TENPAS: The full Quite By Accident series is dropping soon, and you can listen to it wherever you get your podcasts, and watch the video version on the Brookings YouTube channel.