There’s a questionnaire circulating from Barack Obama’s peeps that everyone gets if they’re up for a Presidential appointment. The short story — Obama wants all the skeletons out on the table before he nominates anyone.
There are 63 questions prospective nominees must answer. Barack wants to know if the person has sent embarrassing emails, whether that person has been accused of sexual harassment, late in paying child or spousal support. He always wants to know about arrests, and, of course, those pesky housekeepers.
The thing that strikes me about it is not how intrusive it is, nor how obvious an attempt it is to get plausible deny-ability on everyone. I’m sure that every president in living memory has tried something similar to some extent.
No, the thing that gets me is how it throws up a barrier to anyone who hasn’t been planning their whole lives for high office.
Take, for example, question 10:
Writings: Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or “handles” you have used to communicate on the Internet.
Please list every blog post or comment you’ve made. I couldn’t do that. Yes, I could link to this site, and nigh on all of my blog posts are there, but there are some I’ve deleted or lost. And I wouldn’t even know how to find all the comments I’ve written all over the place. Nor, I think, would anyone, unless they kept a list of everything as they created it. Which would mean that they’d been covering their arse for the entirety of the existence of the internet.
Or question 13.
Electronic communications: if you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.
How in the name of God are you supposed to remember every tactless missive that you’ve sent? What about the one that you drunkenly sent to your boss instead of your girlfriend when you were 19? What about the angry response you sent to someone drunkenly sending you a message at 4am, waking you up? Again, you can’t even know about these unless you’ve been covering your arse for ever.
Next up: question 32.
Other than from relatives, or from close and longstanding personal friends on occasions such as birthdays or seasonal holidays, have you or your spouse ever received a gift exceeding $50.00 in value? Please identify the donor, the value of the gift, the date received and the circumstances in which the gift was made.
Well, there was that one time that Jeff in Accounts Receiving gave my wife a $75 bottle of perfume. It was because he wanted to get into her pants. Yeah, that’d go down a treat. Does that include employers, d’ya think? Just askin’…
And last, but not least, question 53:
Do you presently have or have you in the past had occasional (to be sure, a monthly housekeeper is covered) or regular domestic help? (e.g., a housekeeper, babysitter, nanny or gardener) If yes, please provide the name and years of service for each individual and also provide a brief description of the services rendered.
“Honey? What were the names of all those kids that did babysitting back in the day? Mr Obama says that he ain’t gonna give me a job unless I can provide details on all of ‘em…
Now, how much detail do you think the average person keeps about them? Ten years of tax receipts and loan declarations, plus a list of every email they’ve ever written, plus a summary of every time they’ve spoken under oath, plus the work status of everyone who cut their hedge throughout their lifetime?
Anyone who expects to be holding a presidential appointment1, I’d say. Which means that it’s something people will be working towards for their whole lives.
Which means that they’ve been watching their tongue, hiding themselves and keeping dick on everyone around them for their entire adult life.
Would you really want someone like that to be in any kind of position of power?
1 – Again, I don’t think that Obama is the only one who would have done this; I suspect that every president in my lifetime would have. It’s just that Obama’s questionnaire is the one that I’ve got on the screen in front of me.
Hat tip to The Lovely Girlfriend for sending me the link.