Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

Shocking Report on Transition Teams: Obama vs. McCain

I just read an important new report on the status of the presidential transition teams over at the Huffington Post.

In a nutshell: Obama has developed a complex, intricately run transition team to help prepare immediately the transition to the White House should he win the election, while McCain has…done virtually nothing, something which is unprecedented in modern presidential politics and is a perfect example of what we’ve known all along: Obama is the safe choice, McCain is the risky choice:

As the 2008 campaign nears its conclusion, the presidential transition efforts of the two major candidates have become a study in contrasts: 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.

First, here’s what the transition team does:

Virtually every modern non-incumbent presidential candidate has organized, during the course of the campaign, a transition effort to prepare for the early months of a potential administration. These teams help build lists and vet individuals who could serve in key government posts. They hammer out proposals to facilitate policy making from day one. And they work closely with outgoing administration officials to better understand the true lay of the political land.

This is always important, especially as government has grown in size and complexity. But it is particularly important during a time of crisis, and I’d say that two wars and a collapse of our financial system equals a crisis, wouldn’t you? But the McCain team has decided, for the first time in modern presidential history, to take a different 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.

In other words, McCain would rather win a campaign than oversee an orderly transition that is essential to the smooth running of our government during a time of crisis. Country first, or McCain first?

“It is irresponsible not to have a well organized, thoughtful vigorous transition, right now,” said Mickey Kantor, a Clinton administration official who was there for the 1992 transition and who has consulted with the Obama campaign about its efforts. “I am surprised that John McCain would take that position. This government is very complicated. And I don’t care how many years you have spent on it you don’t truly understand it until you get to the middle of it.”

Contrast that with Barack Obama and his transition efforts:

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.


With 100 or so days before the next president takes office, 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.

All of us here have known that Obama is the organized, calm, safe choice in this storm while McCain is erratic, ad hoc, knee-jerk, and risky in the extreme. If there were ever a story that encapsulated this in one clear contrasting page, it’s this one, and I encourage you to share it with family and friends as I have done.

What McCain is doing isn’t just unprecedented, it’s dangerous and irresponsible:

“Our enemies understand how potentially vulnerable we are in the transition from one administration to the next,” Clay Johnson III, former Executive Director of the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition, said recently at a forum on transition planning. “This is something we need to be very, very seriously prepared for.”

And McCain is doing no preparation at all. This alone would be enough to disqualify him from being elected president. Double your efforts folks, we literally cannot allow this man to be elected, he is that dangerous.


October 9, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. McCain doesn’t need a transition team. He can just step in and replace Bush, keeping the same staff & policies.

    Comment by Mike Hussein Cohen | October 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. McCain doesn’t need a transition team, as he expects to keep the current team in place.

    After all, who is he choosing from to fill all of the political appointee roles/rolls. The DC area has two types of Republicans: current officeholders/appointees and former office holders/lobbyists.

    All he has to do is move the deck chairs around. That is the essence of why he isn’t presenting a plan for either his administration or the transition. There is no point.

    Comment by NewPublius | October 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. McCain is also working on a transition team. I understand that he has already selected a food taster, to begin working as of inauguration day.

    Comment by Dick | October 29, 2008 | Reply

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