Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shadow governments for America

FP noticed a Marc Ambinder report on Obama's preparations for a White House transition.

I have long held the belief that all key presidential candidates should form a UK-style shadow government, so as to prepare for the transition well in advance.


  • Would permit vetting of key advisors and cabinet posts, long before the November election.
  • Would give the voters a better picture of the candidate.
  • Permits presidential candidate to lean on key advisors in public. Right now, media coverage of presidential candidates simply assumes that a President is a one-person expert on all subjects. Reality clearly shatters this illusion.
  • Other minor advantages that come from having a Secretary of State-in-waiting, a Secretary of Defenese-in-waiting, etc.

We should do everything we can to encourage John McCain to follow suit.

The transition has already begun, anyway: President Bush now briefs both Obama and McCain on key issues they must confront, once elected.

Overall, this should improve future White House transitions, and increase transparency of a candidate and his campaign.

I can see some disadvantages, although in my opinion not outweighing the advantages: inevitably some posts in a candidate's shadow government will be vacant, or go through rapid changes during the campaign. Therefore, voters may "vet" one Shadow Secretary of State, while a wholly different person gets the job following the election.

Another disadvantage might be the added scandal-by-association danger that additional spot-lit personalities bring. This is not a disadvantage for voters, as it results from added transparency, but candidates will surely consider this angle.

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