When writing about an event that occurred in the recent past, how should one refer to people who held well-established positions for a short amount of time?
For example, if I am writing about a bill in United States Congress in 2005, and what to insert a quip about George W. Bush, who was President at the time. I could write:
... passage of the bill was threatened by a veto from President George W. Bush.
(Bold text for emphasis in this question.)
However, since the current President is Barack Obama, I'm concerned about confusing the reader, so I'm considering:
... passage of the bill was threatened by a veto from then-President George W. Bush.
Note that my reference to the President is only an example.
While changes in the President may be a common usage of the "then-" prefix, I'm also concerned about relatively obscure positions, such as Deputy Chief of Staff, where a reader likely does not know the position's lineage.
Thus, which would be preferable?
then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove
Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove
Normally, I would simply stick to historical present-tense, but that could be tricky to do for the current context.
Edit 1: Emphasis on problem.