Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Panel 2: From the Election Through the First Hundred Days: Opportunities and Hazards

11:30 Sullivan analyzes his presidential scheduling data to see what presidents spend their time on in the first 100 days.
Working alone: Carter and Nixon did this most
Traveling: Nixon traveled most, Eisenhower traveled least
Bush spent the most time on "Commander in Chief" issues; Kennedy spent the most time on "economic" issues

Sullivan also creates an "isolation index" to measure how much advice presidents get from advisors: external advisors, cabinet members, congressional leaders, WH staff, and heads of state.

11:15 Terry Sullivan has a handout showing the work schedules of the first 100 days of presidents from Eisenhower through George H. W. Bush. I will try to get an electronic copy to post here. A few of his findings, which are based on 50,000 observations of 20,000 events over 4 decades (drawn mostly from presidential diaries and presidential papers):
- modern era (post-Nixon) presidents have an average workday of 13.5 hours
- pre-modern presidents worked around 9.5 hours per day
- workdays of presidents get longer and more efficient over the 100 days

11:10 Kumar reminds us of the stories in the news media last Spring, that criticized Obama for already thinking about his transition team ("he is already measuring new drapes for the Oval Office, and he hasn't even been given his party's nomination!"). Kumar says that Clay Johnson (who is delivering the keynote lunch speech today) was brought on as Bush's tranistion director in 1999. It is important for these candidates to be planning early for the transition of the federal government; the news media should not be mocking them for it.

11:00 am Martha Kumar recently testified before a congressional hearing on the upcoming transition. Cong. Adolphus Towns is chairman of the subcommittee of the House administration committee that is responsible for overseeing the transition - along with several other federal agencies (including OMB, OPM and GAO) and other congressional committees (including the Senate Government Affairs Committee).

Kumar: some of the big problems in the first days of new administrations is with the appointment (and approval from Senate) of cabinet members. The failed nomination of Zoe Baird as Clinton's attorney general took up lots of time and energy in Clinton's first weeks. If she had been properly vetted, they could have avoided this.

10:45 am Michele Jolin, who is running a transition project at CAP, introduced the panel. CAP has a big transition report coming out on November 12.

Prof. Martha Kumar of Towson University is Director of the White House Transition Project.

Prof. Terry Sullivan of Univ. of North Carolina Chapel Hill is Executive director of the WH Transition Project (WHTP)

The WHTP was orignally funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to create an archive of past presidential transitions -- to create an instittutional memory that will last after the staff of the outgoing president is gone.

Martha and Terry will likely provide some good historical perspective, and some good stories from transitions dating back to President Johnson.

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