10 October, 2008

Ready on Day One? Oh, Puh-leeze

If we were to select a president on preparedness alone, there would be no contest:

So, how are the transition teams doing? Sam Stein has a fascinating report, which tells us quite a bit about how the two candidates' operations approach their responsibilities.

...Sen. Barack Obama has organized an elaborate well-staffed network to prepare for his possible ascension to the White House, while Sen. John McCain has all but put off such work until after the election.

The Democratic nominee has enlisted the assistance of dozens of individuals -- divided into working groups for particular federal agencies -- to produce policy agendas and lists of recommended appointees. As evidence of their advanced preparations, officials provided a copy of the strict ethics guidelines that individuals working on the transition effort are required to sign.

John McCain, by contrast, has done little. Campaign spokespersons did not respond to requests for elaboration. But one official with direct knowledge, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, expressed concern with McCain's approach. The Arizona Senator has instructed his team
to not spend time on the transition effort, according to the source, both out of a desire to have complete focus on winning the election as well as a superstitious belief that the campaign shouldn't put the cart before the horse.

Look, I realize it may sound premature to work on a transition before an election, but this is pretty important work. Presidents need staffs who can take over a massive executive and complicated branch bureaucracy on Day One. Failing to take this seriously now may make the nation vulnerable come January.

The Obama campaign seems to be a model of discipline and organization: "Obama's transition effort has been organized into roughly a dozen teams of six to eight people to plot out the approach for each agency, according to a Democratic official. The ethics code governing the process prohibits staff from working on subjects that could be deemed a financial conflict of interests, either to that member or that member's family."

The McCain campaign has no ethics policy in place for the transition, and the head of the team has reportedly held a few conference calls.

One approach is deeply irresponsible. The other approach is Obama's.

I just want to ask two small questions here: if McCain isn't taking his chance at the presidency seriously, why should we? Why the fuck would we want to elect a man who displays this extreme lack of interest in his responsibilities?

When your drive to win and your craven superstition keep you from ensuring you're prepared to step into the Big Man's shoes, I think that states quite clearly that you're not cut out to lead this country.

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