01 Oct 2001
Christopher Cox: Capitol Hill Intellectualby Susan YoungTopics:
In reviewing Christopher
Cox's CV, one might assume that his career has been well thought
out. Cox took only three years to earn a BA in English and political
science at the University of Southern California; received a joint degree
from HBS and Harvard Law School; clerked at the U.S. Court of Appeals;
made partner at Latham & Watkins, where he specialized in corporate
finance; founded (with his father) a company that published an English
version of the Russian newspaper Pravda; was appointed senior
associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan; and then, in 1988, was
elected to represent California's Orange County in the U.S. Congress.
But when questioned about
the job he's held for the last thirteen years, Cox replies, "Running
for Congress was entirely an impulse decision. I did not even think
about it until the day I decided to do it." At the time, he was
immersed in politics, working in the White House. He was a single man
with energy and experience who saw an open congressional seat, an overcrowded
GOP primary (with fourteen candidates), and an opportunity to put his
skills to work for the people of his adopted home state. "I'm
sure that if I had given it the kind of careful consideration that normally
goes with a significant career change, I wouldn't have done it,"
says the St. Paul, Minnesota, native.
Cox attributes winning
the election to his ability to differentiate himself from his competition
by highlighting his national and international experience. Such experience
has served him well as he has introduced numerous pieces of legislation
that have, among other things, repealed inheritance taxes (the so-called
death tax), banned taxes on Internet commerce, and limited fraudulent
securities lawsuits. Now in his seventh term, the Newport Beach resident
chairs the House Policy Committee and is a member of several committees,
including the House Leadership Steering Committee.
Beyond being a politician,
Cox, who learned to speak Russian in college and was editor of the Harvard
Law Review, is known on Capitol Hill as an intellectual. His name
has been mentioned for a U.S. Court of Appeals —and even Supreme
Court —judgeship, and some think he could be Presidential material.
He admires his friend and fellow Republican Vice President Dick Cheney
for being "a solid conservative, intelligent, competent, and low-key,"
many of the qualities for which Cox himself has been praised.
While Cox is proud of his
professional accomplishments, the role he cherishes most is that of
spouse and father. In 1992, he married Rebecca Gernhardt, now a vice
president at Continental Airlines. The pair first met when both were
working in the Reagan White House. "She outranked me, and I thought
that was good preparation for marriage," he says, flashing his
signature grin. "I always knew that I would like to be a father,
but I had no idea how wonderful the experience would be," adds
Cox, whose Washington office is filled with photos of Rebecca and their
two sons and daughter. "Of all of the things I do, I put being
a husband and father at the top of the list."
Class of MBA 1976, Section H