The National Journal reports that President Bush is making President-elect Obama's transition easier by asking political appointees to tender their resignations -- effective January 20, 2009.
White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten instructed Cabinet secretaries and heads of departments to collect resignation letters from political appointees, with the goal of providing the incoming president "maximum flexibility in assembling his administration."
Bolten said Bush's directions are "consistent with past practice," which is correct: Then-Chief of Staff John Podesta, acting on behalf of President Clinton, sent a similar memo to government leaders in November 2000, and previous presidents have taken similar steps.
The exceptions to Bush's order are federal inspectors general and "those individuals who hold termed positions," Bolten said. "Non-career Senior Executive Service and Schedule C appointees at independent and regulatory agencies headed by termed appointees" are also exceptions to the resignation order.
But the New York Times reports that, below the top levels, Bush is burrowing staff into his administration whose terms will last well into Obama's presidency.
Word was leaking out that President Bush had bought a new house in Dallas, workers were building the inauguration stage for his successor right outside his front door and his top aides were helping the new guy to prepare to take over.
Still, on Tuesday alone, Mr. Bush hired 18 people "to serve in his administration," a White House news release said.
The appointments and nominations mostly involved multiyear terms to small boards and commissions that most Americans have never heard about.
All told, Mr. Bush has made roughly 30 personnel moves since the November election, some in nominations that will require Senate approval, and others in direct appointments that will last well into President-elect Barack Obama's term and beyond.
Yet, unlike some of the contentious, late regulatory moves by the president, none of the appointments, and reappointments, have raised a peep of protest from the Democrats, Mr. Obama, or even the liberal interest groups that have so closely monitored his personnel decisions.
Mr. Fratto pointed out to the New York Times that Mr. Bush's term is four years, not 3 years, 10 months and 4 days, and said the president will not pull punches as he makes potentially still more appointments. "We actually do have not just the authority," he said, "we have an obligation to do what we think is best for the country up until 11:59 a.m. on January 20."