At the founding of the republic, travel was difficult. Particularly in winter, with atrocious roads, getting from the hinterlands to the capital could take a month or more. Because the votes of the presidential electors were not formally certified by Congress until well after the election, an inauguration date of March 4 was specified. Meanwhile, the formation of an administration was relatively trivial. George Washington had five Cabinet officers (including the vice president), each of whom had a handful of clerks, secretaries, translators, etc. Washington himself had a few private secretaries. That was the extent of the executive branch.
The situation is now reversed. Washington, D.C., can be reached from any point in the country within a day’s travel, but forming an administration of complexity takes months. Thus, a return to the original March 4 inauguration date makes sense. The amendment effecting such a change should also include the provision that the president-elect could submit Cabinet- and sub-Cabinet-level appointments to the incoming Senate for confirmation prior to the inauguration. This way, the new administration could start with much of its infrastructure in place on day one.
Steven K. Brierley
John Dickerson’s very detailed article confirms a suspicion that I have had for a long time: The presidency is an impossible job, and should be divided in half. The president would be responsible for foreign affairs and the military. The vice president would be responsible for domestic affairs and economic policy. Each person would be an expert in his or her respective area. The vice president would no longer be selected merely to “appeal to the base” or “balance the ticket.”
John Nance Garner, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first vice president, once commented that “the Vice Presidency is not worth a pitcher of warm spit.” Perhaps it is time to totally overhaul the job description, and in doing so save the presidency.
Okay. It ain’t easy. But competent people have accomplished the seemingly impossible with dignity for all but our most recent history. John Dickerson, don’t try to make excuses for a failed president. He is a complete loser, and we are all the worse for it.
I’m incensed that Dickerson didn’t include Hillary Clinton in any of his analyses. Like Mitt Romney (whom Dickerson holds up as an example of how to “hit the ground running”), Clinton spent her campaign trying to prepare for the office, which she was familiar with because of her husband. She won the votes of more people than Trump did, and yet you dismiss her as if she didn’t exist.
I am trying to read “The Hardest Job in the World,” and find myself continually distracted and irritated by the overwhelming use of male pronouns throughout the article. I tried to brush it off, but decided that I’ll take a hit for the team and be “that person.” The presidency, while seemingly a male position because only men have filled it thus far, is actually a gender-neutral job.