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I have worked on many campaigns over the years, and I have been incredibly impressed with how the Obama campaign works. This is different from being impressed with Senator Obama, the person, or having a belief in the platform and its issues. It is not just the Senator who is a transformational person, his campaign, too, embraces the idea that things can work completely outside of the box. This is displayed in the comparison article over on Huff Post about the difference in the transition teams and plans the two campaigns have in mind. The Clif notes version is that the Obama campaign has a plan, the McCain campaign would just wing it.
The transition from “candidate” to “president” is a 78 day process this year. You need to set up organization, interview and hire people, orient and train them, set up offices, etc. Once you’ve got the people, you can start setting up policies, procedures and be ready to start GOVERNING on Day One.
It’s not a difficult process if you are a veep “moving up”, and keeping a lot of the same staffers. It’s difficult if you are from the opposing party. It is even tougher when you are coming in during a time of great crisis. Luckily, the Obama campaign has a good plan: transition teams separated by agency, complete with lists of people who will need to be approved by Congress. Policy units. There is even a strict code of ethics.
As usual, the Obama campaign is ahead of the curve in terms of having things in place. Months ago, when people would say to me “Obama has no experience”, I would cite the workings of the campaign as a model of how to run a government. Previous administrations have been guilty of living in campaign mold, being more concerned with the next election than actual governing. This campaign built a framework, integrated it with local supporters and hit the ground running. It appears that they are undertaking a parallel course for being in office. The deal is working smarter and not harder: for example, hiring the best and the brightest as opposed to the “best connected”.
There are massive problems facing our world, and only strong, well managed, smart leadership will be able to steward us through to a better situation. The Obama transition plan is yet one more manifestation of an organization, and its leader, actually ready to lead.
UPDATE: From Playbook
The White House yesterday for the first post-Sept. 11 presidential transition has begun, the first time in the nation's history it began before Election Day. President Bush signed an executive order creating a Presidential Transition Coordinating Council that will meet for the first time next Wednesday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with representatives of the White House and both presidential campaigns. The White House began talking and meeting with representatives of both campaigns this summer. For the first time, the government is conducting background checks on potential transition officials before there is a president-elect. 'We've been in regular contact with both candidates' transition teams by phone and in person,' White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said at her briefing. 'We've worked to facilitate security clearances for key transitional personnel from both teams. We've worked to establish working groups within the White House and throughout the administration to outline internal roles and responsibilities. Perino told us that the administration wants prospective transition officials to have 'a full understanding of the threat landscape.