This blog post has not been written by Steven Clemons or any member of The Washington Note team. It is written by someone who really does deserve a very top spot in Obama Land but is sitting pensively waiting for a call while trying to pretend he/she is not.
Waiting for the Call. . .
I can’t tell you who I am. Like you, I’m hoping to get a political appointment in the Obama administration. I’m trying to project the aloof and elite appearance of a soon-to-be-announced Schedule C.
But the truth is, I’m just like you. I toiled in the opposition for 8 years. I supported Barack Obama. And I’m now officially desperate to get a plum job in the administration. So, like you, I wait for that long-lost important contact make “the call” and offer me the job of my dreams.
But until then, I wait in a state of suspended ambition. I too have the dreams featuring, in no apparent order, Vice President Elect Joe Biden, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton and, yes, even the man himself, President-Elect Obama.
Sometimes in these dreams they offer me a job, and sometimes they say they can’t offer me a job because they can’t find my resume amidst the other 300,000 on www.change.gov. I wake in a cold sweat.
Like you, I keep a secret “A list” of positions I would kill for, including all manner of ambassador slots, sub-secretary -ships and senior director positions.
I have my secret “B list” of fall back positions I would also kill for, including senior advisor, special assistant, and even the Deputy Assistant Secretary-ship. Of course, I tell almost no one about these lists.
If people saw the B list, that might reduce my chances of getting an A list job. And if they saw the A list, people might think I was too arrogant, too demanding, and too self-delusional to serve in the administration. It takes a lot of skill to project A-list, aspire to B-list, and secretly wonder if you’re on any list at all.
Like you, I have started to act like a person in the know. I never mention except to my closest friends that no one from the transition team has called me. When anyone mentions the transition in conversation, I nod silently and knowingly. I start every sentence about politics by saying “I am not officially part of the transition but . . . .”
I have avoided my usual press calls, fearful that the wrong quote will kill my chances at any position on the A or B lists, and hopeful that people remember my past appearances on CNN.
I read the lists of names on the transition teams, making mental notes of people I know well, people I pretend to know well, and the dreaded category of people I wish I had made the effort to know well before they were on the transition team. I check to make sure I have all of their e-mail addresses and send them a note congratulating them and offering to do anything I can to help.
A good day for me is when I resist the urge to e-mail the same 5 people I do know on the transition team again, congratulating them and offering to do anything I can to help.
Like you, I am getting phone calls from people even less connected and in the know than I am. I try to offer them advice, without being too obvious about my lack of connections and without being too obvious when I discourage them from going after any of the positions I want. “Perhaps the Hill would be a good place to look” I tell them. “There are sure to be lots of good jobs there (that I don’t want).”
Like you, I am convinced that everyone I know in Washington is in the know about the transition and is being considered for some great job I would be great at. I am shocked when I find out that they too are not getting any phone calls and are as filled with angst and self-doubt as I am.
Why aren’t we getting the call? Why did I do all of that volunteer work on the campaign? What did I do wrong? How can they treat me this way? Most importantly, don’t they know who I am? (Literally?)
Of course, it should come as no surprise that there are many people in the same boat. We moved to Washington to serve our country, and now is our time.
And while some of our transition angst is driven by ego, the overriding impulse is a desire to serve our country at a time of great challenges . . . . oh wait, that’s my phone. Gotta run.
Anonymous is a highly accomplished policy veteran in Washington who is clearly on the edge while waiting for that call. . .