Final two horses head for the starting gate

Now presidential transition is in the air, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each apparently having clinched their respective parties’ nominations. Just as a warm day in the fall smells differently than a warm day in spring, you can sense the change already.

This one isn’t going to bring moonlight and roses. The upcoming campaign instead brings to mind epic prize fights for which the late Mohammad Ali was famous: The “Thrilla in Manila,” the “Fight of the Century,” and “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Take your pick. It’s gonna be ugly.  Both of them know how to throw a punch.

Different as Trump and Clinton might be, they share a few similarities.

Both have firings  of “little people” prominently in their backgrounds — he from the TV reality show “The Apprentice,” she from her days as first lady and the White House travel office.  Think about that, all you senior executives who might be quivering in anticipation.

Both have had long and controversial public lives, so it’s not as if whomever you favor will shock you with what they do or say. Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, even Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — their careers prior to the presidency were way shorter and more provincial.

Both are white and 70-years-old — the age Ronald Reagan was when he entered the White House. I guess 70 really is the new 50.

Both seem a little priggish. Neither likes to be crossed in a serious way. In watching and listening to both closely for a while now, my impression is that the real person in both cases lies hidden deep in a “heavily forested interior,” the phrase author and speechwriter Robert Sherwood used to describe an ultimately unknowable FDR.

Beyond that, I’d say the country will have a clear choice.

For federal agencies and the people working in them, transition is already underway, in a manner irrespective of which party will come in. Several groups are already at work on it, notably the Partnership for Public Service via its Center for Presidential Transition. Check out my interview with the Center’s David Eagles. He emphasizes the need to ensure continuity of the national security apparatus. Bob Tobias of American University points out, an incoming administration must possess the know-how to turn its ideas into tangible public policy. Perhaps Clinton has the experiential edge here.

Above all, whatever your political proclivities, keep ’em out of the office. Write the words “Hatch Act” in big block lettering on a 3 x 5 card, using a black Sharpie and red highlights. Prop it up at your PC so you can see it every morning when you get to work.

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