The lasting impacts of a presidential transition

March 5, 2020

Officials from the Obama and Carter administrations stepped up to the microphone at our podcast studio in February to discuss national security, effective governance and the influence of transitions on a presidency. The result? Three more Transition Lab podcasts to listen to on the way to work, in the car, or from that easy chair at home.

Don’t miss these intriguing Transition Lab conversations, hosted by Dave Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition.

EPISODE 3: “The Art of National Security Transitions”

Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of Defense and a trailblazer for women in national security, shared insights from her experience running the Obama administration’s agency review team as well as from her days as undersecretary.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Responding to a question about gender equality in the workplace, Flourney remembered how different things were in the Obama administration from when she worked years earlier in the Clinton administration.

“When I was a young professional in the Bill Clinton administration, I remember we had a senior female leaders lunch and there were like eight of us at the table and everybody was staring like, what are all the women talking about?” Flournoy said.

“Fast forward to the Obama administration, we would have filled the executive dining room with female leaders in the Pentagon. So, it’s getting better. It needs to get better still. And particularly, it needs to get better in terms of minority representation in national security.”

EPISODE 4: “The Obama Transition to Power”

 Chris Lu, who led President Obama’s transition team, explained how a smooth transition enables the candidate to govern on Day One.

HIGHLIGHTS:

After Obama won, Lu worked with the Partnership to provide many of the documents from the Obama transition.

 The transition is “literally one of the most important things that can happen in government, and I didn’t think I should be the keeper of all of the transition documents,” Lu said. “It should sit somewhere other than me.”

EPISODE 5: “The Carter Transition to Power”

Stuart Eizenstat and David Rubenstein, senior officials in the Carter campaign in 1976, discussed their work in the subsequent Carter administration, and the flawed transition that had a lasting, negative impact on the presidency.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Jimmy Carter was the first president to divert personnel and campaign funding to transition planning.

“He felt that if he could get a running head start by having a transition team begin to put together the kinds of policies we would implement, that this would help his presidency,” Eizenstat said.

Rubenstein offered advice to the current administration, saying it is crucial to plan for a possible second term and that includes setting new priorities.

 “I don’t really know, if Carter had won that election, exactly what his priorities were for the second term,” Rubenstein said. “So, I think somebody has to, in a second term presidency, really focus at the end of that first term [on] what the [president is] going to do that’s really different or better than he did in the first term.”

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