I vaguely remember reading a science fiction story in which the character was introduced as a unambitious government official (a bureaucrat). I believe in the story it mentions that while his superiors had come and gone, he always remained due to his unoffensive nature. Throughout the story the character manipulates his way to meet his ends (which I believe had something to do with aliens and their rights). I believe it was written by Asimov, but it might have been Arthur C. Clarke or Robert A. Heinlein.
P.S.: Sorry for all the 'I believe', but I honestly have to strain my memory to even have a vague recollection beyond 'story about political acumen'.