What Do We Do Now?

What Do We Do Now?: A Workbook for the President-Elect

Stephen Hess
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 174
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wphtf
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  • Book Info
    What Do We Do Now?
    Book Description:

    The period from Election Day to Inauguration Day in America seems impossibly short. Newly elected U.S. presidents have less than eleven weeks to construct a new government composed of supporters and strangers, hailing from all parts of the nation. This unique and daunting process always involves at least some mistakes -in hiring, perhaps, or in policy priorities, or organizational design. Early blunders can carry serious consequences well into a president's term; minimizing them from the outset is critical. InWhat Do We Do Now?Stephen Hess draws from his long experience as a White House staffer and presidential adviser to show what can be done to make presidential transitions go smoothly. Here is a workbook to guide future chief executives, decision by decision, through the minefield of transition. You'll have to start at the beginning, settling on a management style and knowing how to "arrange all the boxes." Something as seemingly mundane as parceling office space can be consequential -hence the inclusion of a proposed White House organizational chart and floor plans of the West Wing. What qualities are needed for each job, and where are the best candidates for those positions most likely to be found? How can you construct a cabinet that "looks like America"? What Do We Do Now? is your indispensable guide through the thicket of these decisions. There are small decisions, too. You'll have to pick a desk -photos of the choices are included. Which presidential portraits should hang in the Oval Office? Which ones have previous presidents chosen? And when it comes time to write an inaugural address, what should be the content, theme, and tone? It's all here in the presidential transition workbook -don't leave for Washington without it. This concise volume is sure to be a valuable resource for the president and team of advisers as they attempt to herd cats into an effective government. o We Do Now? is alsisalso a delightful read for anyone interested in exactly how one goes about being the president of the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0185-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-v)
  3. My Life in Transitions
    (pp. vi-ix)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Getting Started
    (pp. 1-11)

    There is no shadow cabinet to move in with you, as in a parliamentary system. Your staff—created for campaigning, not governing—lacks many of the talents you now require. Your political party asks not what it can do for you. The government’s civil service is either too liberal or too conservative, according to past presidents. And this is just the start of your problems.

    No political scientist so thoroughly understood the hazards of presidential transitions as Richard E. Neustadt, the Harvard professor who had also been on President Harry S. Truman’s staff and an adviser to John F. Kennedy....

  5. CHAPTER 2 The White House
    (pp. 13-57)

    In the days before you become president of the United States (or POTUS, as we say “inside the Beltway”), the government may look like rows of empty offices waiting to be filled with your loyal supporters. This is not quite the case. Of the two million civilian employees in the U.S. government, you will get to pick about 3,000 of them. Moreover, the most important appointees will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

    Let’s get started at the top.

    The nerve center of the Executive Office of the President is the White House Office (WHO). It is imperative to choose...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Cabinet
    (pp. 59-93)

    Cabinet-making for you will be a lot more complicated than it was for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nixon. The original Eisenhower cabinet was dubbed “eight millionaires and a plumber.” The millionaires were all white males—as was the plumber, Secretary of Labor Martin Durkin, who had been president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union. Eisenhower added a woman to his cabinet, Oveta Culp Hobby, when the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was created in 1953. She was also white and a millionaire.

    The Kennedy and Nixon cabinets were solidly stocked with white men....

  7. CHAPTER 4 Activities
    (pp. 95-123)

    Past presidents-elect have picked teams of supporters to go into the executive departments and report on what they think the new executive should know. The transition teams produce briefing papers that will be passed along to the people you will eventually appoint to cabinet and subcabinet positions.

    These temporary jobs will be in great demand. Moreover, taxpayer money is available for authorized transition costs, so they can even be paid jobs—perfect for campaign workers who need to be tided over until you can put them on the permanent payroll. Some supporters, particularly lobbyists, will not aspire to be on...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Inauguration
    (pp. 125-141)

    The ceremony itself is fairly formulaic (see the list of inaugural events on page 127), but there is still room for individual touches. President Carter shed the usual morning coat and striped pants for a standard business suit. President Reagan moved the ceremony to the Capitol’s west front terrace from the traditional East Portico. (So you will now face the Mall and an audience of many thousands.)

    Within patriotic limits, you can choose the musical selections. A chorus from Atlanta University sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at Carter’s inauguration. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang “This Is My Country”...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The Oval Office
    (pp. 143-155)

    Clearly, this is a great ceremonial place. You will call in members of the press pool to snap photos of you chatting with world leaders, with the marble mantel of the fireplace in the background, the presidential seal set in plaster on the ceiling, the flags of the United States and the president behind the desk. But is this really where you want to roll up your sleeves, spread out your papers, loosen your tie and work?

    I have worked in the White House twice, for two very different people, and their answers were yes (Eisenhower) and no (Nixon). The...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Presidential Transitions: A Study Approach
    (pp. 157-159)

    If I were teaching the course, I think I might start at the end—the Inaugural Address—where the president-elect becomes the president and states his ambitions for his presidency. My students, of course, would have done their homework: they would have read the four greatest speeches—Lincoln’s two, FDR’s first, and Kennedy’s—along with William Safire’s commentary in hisLend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History(W. W. Norton, 2004).

    Every course needs a spine, sometimes a textbook. The backbone of my course would be Charles O. Jones,Passages to the Presidency: From Campaigning to Governing(Brookings, 1998);...

  11. For Further Study
    (pp. 160-162)
  12. Thanks
    (pp. 163-164)
    Stephen Hess
  13. Index
    (pp. 165-173)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 174-175)