Thursday, October 21, 2004

Kerry should make staff appointments quickly...

According to reports, Team Kerry has decided that if the election results are at all close, even if Bush is in front, Kerry will simply declare victory and proceed as if he has won. “While the lawyers litigate, political operatives will try to shape public perception. Their goal would be to persuade voters that Kerry has the best claim to the presidency and that Republicans are trying to steal it.” This strikes me as a dubious strategy and one that is likely to put off many voters.

That aside, I want to comment on a specific element of the strategy. The reports say that Kerry will be ready to name a national security team shortly after the election. This strikes me as a good thing under normal circumstances and especially important given that we are at war.

In 2000, George Bush received a lot of criticism for beginning to assemble his White House staff before the election had been officially resolved. I never understood this criticism. In fact, Al Gore should have been harshly criticized for not failing to do so. Each of these men had a fair expectation of assuming the presidency a few weeks later. Each of them should have been preparing for that eventuality by getting a staff in place to allow for a smooth transition and a fully functional executive branch upon arrival. To not do so was irresponsible.

Ideally, all candidates should begin naming key staff members well before the election. After all, these choices are arguably more important than the selection of a running mate, which we seem to demand take place months in advance. And getting a head start on a process that takes thousands of man hours in completing paperwork, interviews, and security checks can only be a good thing.

I realize this is not done for practical reasons: it’s expensive; the more people appointed, the higher the exposure to criticism of the candidate; it’s sometimes difficult to get commitments from people so far in advance; etc. But the goal is a good one, which is why, in the event of a disputed election, I would strongly approve of Kerry immediately going to work on assembling a staff.

[via Jim Geraghty via Betsy]

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