Time for a Cool Change


Nothing like an homage to the Little River Band in a headline. Anyhow,  Mary Gilbert of National Journal (via GovernmentExecutive.com) has an interesting Q&A session with Univ. of Vermont professor John P. Burke, expert on 20th century presidential transitions and author of such books as "Presidential Transitions: From Politics to Practice." They discuss what’s in store for the next Commander in Chief.

Q: This has been the longest presidential campaign in America’s history. Will there be any break for the winner before he must turn to the task of governing?

Burke: I don’t think so at all. I think one of the challenges this year during the transition is that they are going to have to move very quickly on a number of different fronts to begin the process of governing.

Q: What are some of the particular challenges that the incoming president faces in 2008?

Burke: Number one, because it is the first post-9/11 [transition], that means that the whole issue of getting your homeland security team up and running early during the transition is a new task that prior presidents haven’t had to face. Secondly, because we’re fighting two wars, making sure that your foreign policy team is in place early is much more important in the upcoming transition. And then third, making sure your economic team is in place given the financial crisis and a recession and so on. So on three different fronts, the pressure during this transition is much greater, I think, than transitions in the past.

Q: When should candidates start thinking about the transition?

Burke: It depends upon the candidate. And it usually begins very early. One of the interesting things about George W. Bush’s transition to office is that he actually began in the spring of 1999, when he tapped his, in effect, gubernatorial chief of staff, Clay Johnson, to begin the pre-election transition process. Other candidates have started later. His father started shortly after Christmas of 1987. Jimmy Carter started right after he won the Pennsylvania primary, which I think was in April 1976…. As somebody who studies transitions, I think it’s very, very important that they do begin that process early.

 Read the whole thing here.

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