Why the presidential interregnum?

As Krugman points out, the situation in the US is a pretty sad sight, with the lamest of lame duck presidents fiddling while the economy burns. This is a pretty ridiculous situation. Why not do what they do with buildings and start using them before they are officially opened?

What would be wrong with the incoming president having executive power from the time it is clear they are the president elect but, if the (somewhat strange to our eyes) tradition of not naming one’s cabinet until after the election is to be retained, the president elect could operate by directing existing executive officers as well as replacing them if he wished (with temporary or permanent appointments). Sitting around till well into January while the place goes to the dogs seems barmy.

Perhaps at the end of his term Obama might offer such an arrangement to his replacement. It can’t be much fun sitting around waiting for the new guy to take over in any event.

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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor(@geoff-honnor)
13 years ago

Put simply, it would require a constitutional amendment for the Presidential-elect to exercise any executive power before inauguration day and it probably wouldn’t succeed.

The electoral college doesn’t meet to formally elect the President until the first Wednesday after the second Monday in December and its decision must then be formally affirmed by a joint sitting of Congress.

Bush could voluntarily give up office before January 20 but the only constitutionally valid successor until January 20 would be Dick Cheney.

Under your scenario, who would be Commander in Chief if the US was attacked in December?

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
13 years ago

I think you are suffering from critical-stage Obamamania. Can we please wait until he does one single thing, apart from perhaps writing his own books, differently, before we get carried away?

Otherwise I’m afraid for your health!

pablo
pablo
13 years ago

We should not imagine that GWB is idly twiddling his thumbs. He’ll be working on his presidential pardon list. Convicted publisher, Conrad Black has his hand up and we can bet Republican ex-senator and bag man/enforcer, Tom DeLay can’t be far behind. My point is that the interegnum between presidencies cuts both ways and if Barrack were to be given a say this aspect of US politics would get very messy indeed.

pablo
pablo
13 years ago

I plead the fifth Nicholas. To be honest I tend to agree with your argument. It is practical and given current events quite crucial. But unlikely to be adopted for a number of reasons that have more to do with history, protocol and the deferential way the US public treat their ex-presidents. From my reading of it Obama took himself out of the presidential loop. I think that disappointed a lot of people and may in retrospect have been a mistake.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
13 years ago

I don’t really have any problem with changing the existing arrangement – I personally like your idea. I just took (probably irrational) exception to your suggestion that Obama might change this, and the (probably non-existent) implication that he might do something about this, even though no-one else ever had, simply because he is Obama.

Fwiw, I certainly wish him well, if nothing else it would be extremely irrational in the circumstances not to!

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
13 years ago

I cant think of a truly humble politician since Lincoln, though no doubt theyve existed since then

Ha, no doubt!!

Tel_
Tel_
13 years ago

Obama is bright enough to know that the next few months are not going to see an economic upturn in the USA — no matter what happens. If he keeps his hands firmly off the wheel and touches nothing at all then maybe the crash will be worse, maybe not, but at least Obama’s hands will be clean and what happens won’t be his doing.

It makes sense to me that Bush should have to live with his own legacy, in the full.