Over the past week, every one of my friends has quite seriously expressed interest in one of the 8,000 non-career gigs available in the new Obama administration. (Apparently, even Hillary Clinton is flirting with the prospect.)
But one of the downsides to applying for one of the top gigs in the incoming administration it that it requires the kind of vetting that would seem to be reserved for prospective Secret Service agents.
A seven-page questionnaire being sent by the office of President-elect Barack Obama to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts may be the most extensive — some say invasive — application ever.
The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.
Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their
The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.” …
Under “Domestic Help,” the questionnaire asks the immigration status of applicants’ housekeepers, nannies, chauffeurs and yard-workers, and whether applicants have paid the required taxes for household employees. (Those questions reflect controversies that tripped up President Bill Clinton’s first two nominees for attorney general in 1993.) …
Most information must cover at least the past decade, including the names of anyone applicants lived with; a chronological list of activities for which applicants were paid; real estate and loans over $10,000, and their terms, for applicants and spouses; net worth statements submitted for loans, and organization memberships — in particular, memberships in groups that have discriminated on the basis of race, sex, disability, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. …
There are no time limits for some information, including liens, tax audits, lawsuits, legal charges, bankruptcies or arrests. Applicants must report all businesses with which they and their spouses have been affiliated or in which they have had a financial stake of more than 5 percent. All gifts over $50 that they and their spouses have received from anyone other than close friends or relatives must be identified.
grahamad, our newest blogroll buddy, is mulling over applying, but is wrestling with some serious reservations about the amount of disclosure required.
The disclosure of closet skeletons (and outraged blog screeds) is one thing; more importantly, I can’t get past the language about whether or not my information would “be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the president-elect.” (I realize this is s.o.p. for vetting potential Administration staff, but this election is really my first as a fully engaged adult. It’s all enthralling, unsettling news to me.)
Without question, there are recorded and secret moments in my past that are totally mortifying. So I think I can confidently assure President-Elect Obama that yes, I could be “a possible source of embarrassment.” Who wouldn’t be? The larger issue is what the transition team considers “embarrassing,” or a “conflict of interest,” or disqualifiers. Our President-Elect tried coke, no prob after Bush, and worshipped with a preacher steeped in black liberation theology, which turned out to be not easily understood by and a major but not insurmountable problem for the bulk of the (white) American public. Our Vice President-Elect has a plagarism scandal behind him, as well as the dubious position of being the guy who referred to his new African-American boss as “clean” and “articulate.” No biggie? Not now, it seems, but it certainly was at the time.
When I think about willingly filling out the job application, I wonder: a) who’s going to be reading this? (Is it too much to want to know which lucky sap gets to read the tawdry yet mundane details of my life?) and b) short of criminal behavior, what is really considered too scandalous for the incoming Administration? It’s likely not my Clinton support (right?), but I can see President-Elect Post-Partisan bristling at my blog references to the Bush Administration’s post-Katrina HUD as “public enemy #1.” I don’t exactly mince words, nor play nice. Diplomacy is a learned behavior for this Virgo. (I should probably also stop referencing the zodiac.)