The Office of.... what?

I just realized today the extent of Obama’s political mastery. Watching the most recent news conference, my eyes were drawn to the sign on the podium listing “The Office of the President-Elect.” My natural assumption was that this is an office existing in the White House to facilitate the transition between administrations. We haven’t had a “president-elect” in 8 years so I didn’t even give it a second thought.

However, being the political junkie that I am, I went over the the White House’s website to get more info on this office. To my surprise, it technically does not exist as part of the executive branch. In fact, it’s not even part of the U.S. government. To be really honest, Obama isn’t even the president-elect until the Electoral College meet and officially name him as such. Until then, he’s just the presumptive president-elect, although granted that’s a mouthful to say…

I know this may all seem to be really nitty-gritty detail points but I think it showcases the overall strategy. The blogosphere and even mainstream newspaper editorials are both praising and critiquing Obama for portraying himself as the “acting president.” Despite Obama’s attempts to squash the image, many have jumped onto this portrayal (unfairly or not). New York Times Op/Ed columnist Gail Collins even had the gaul to suggest that Bush and Cheney should resign as a “holidy present” and allow Nancy Pelosi to hold the office temporarily until Obama is officially inagurated. This from a relatively respected newspaper!

Reflecting on this and previous posts, I realize the full extent of Obama’s grasp of the political world. He is truly a mastermind on a level surpassing most others. First, he brings in rivals from the contentious Democratic primary season and effectively neutralized them as intra-party threats and problems. Next, by portraying a presidential image through this Office of the President-Elect, news conferences with him surrounded by American flags, and even something as little as having reporters stand when he enters the room, Obama has crafted a situation where he can claim “there is only one president” while in effect being the “acting president” by neutralizing Bush in his last few months.

I really do admire the man and his campaign from this perspective. It is true, political brilliance. And it shows you just one of the many factors leading to his win over McCain during this election.