If your real name is “United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions,” you will probably prefer to be called the Plum Book.
That is what everyone calls it, and the Plum Book has been published after each presidential election since the Eisenhower administration. It lists about 7000 jobs that are available for political appointment and it is a good place to find out about the various agency heads, their subordinates, policy executives and advisors together with the squadrons of toadies who report to such people.
If you would like to join the new administration, you begin with the Plum Book to identify your target, then you make a list of names you have read in the newspaper that seem to be close to the levers of power. Then you do your best to grasp those levers and yank them in your direction. Powerful public relations and law firms are available to help.
The second cleverest group of ambitious politically inclined people in the United States finds its way into political appointments in just that way, but the first cleverest group has a different plan.
Competition must first be eliminated because the distinguishing characteristics of successful candidates are not necessarily related to the job at hand. You might be the Talleyrand, Metternich or Kissinger of diplomacy but you will often be sidelined in favor of someone who was kneecapping hecklers in a closely contested state.
The best way to eliminate competition is to choose the most undesirable sounding job because all anyone will remember in your post-government-service future is the phrase “when I worked at the White House.” The phrase can also reliably enhance dating prospects.
Or, better still, the truly devious job seeker should choose a position that does not even exist and rely on the nefarious knee cappers to overlook it entirely.
I myself will be applying to be Secretary of Dudgeon, Umbrage and Outrage in the incoming administration. The new agency will be designed to allocate these scarce resources among worthy supplicants.
Attracting the ire of President-elect Trump is a serious career booster. Take, for example, John Lewis, a Congressman from Atlanta with a distinguished history in civil rights though, to be fair, at age 76, he might have lost a little off his fastball. By questioning the legitimacy of the Trump presidency, Congressman Lewis attracted the venomous attention that only the President elect can provide.
And what was the consequence? His book sold out, his Twitter followers tripled and the contributions rolled in. On the whole, this is called a fine political outing.
At the Department of Dudgeon, Umbrage and Outrage, we are expecting others to take note of the Congressman’s success and to line up for their chance at attracting scathing presidential retorts. Clearly, my staff and I will have to manage his unusual behavior to assure that it becomes a scarce resource we can use to best advantage.
We’ll have to control the timing to assure that the tweet storms don’t overlap and cancel each other out.
We are also developing a price list for such things as a tweet, a mention at a press conference, getting kicked out of a press conference, getting roughed up and so forth. If you wish to portray yourself as an aggrieved victim of the president, it is going to cost you.
We will be distributing the opportunities between both parties to assure that neither Elizabeth Warren nor some centrist Republican globalist gets more than his or her fair share of victimhood.
We will have to set standards for imagination to assure that being singled out by the president does not get boring and lose cachet.
Even the fear of being singled out will have a price. Just ask the auto companies that are cancelling plants in Mexico and announcing billion dollar investments here in America.
There is nothing like scarcity to create power for those who get to allocate resources – especially resources that nobody else has even discovered yet.
When this catches on, just imagine how large my department will be and how many listings we’ll have in the 2020 Plum Book. By then I will be saying, “When I worked at the White House” even though, with a job like that, everyone will already know.