Holidays and a Memory of Joe Biden

You may remember that there was a shift in congressional power during the spring of 2001. Thanks to google, I was able to find the following succinct explanation online:

"According to numerous press reports, Vermont Senator James Jeffords plans to leave the Republican Party on May 24[, 2001]. His switch to independent status would give the Democrats a 50-49 majority in the Senate, shifting control from the Republicans to the Democrats. This would be the first time the Democratic Party has controlled a house of Congress since 1994."

I was taking a marketing class at the Naval Postgraduate School at that time, and my group was pretending that we were trying to identify new markets for the AN/AQS-20 Mine-Hunting Sonar. As part of that exercise, we were identifying which senators and congresspeople to court. So we were paying close attention when the Jeffords party switch altered the congressional calculus. Joe Biden became head of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on that day. He immediately had a new website up - a glossy polished thing back when polished websites didn't come easily. I just remember being amazed that he was so prepared.

I don't know why I'm thinking about that May 2001 website tonight. Maybe because all this political stuff reminds me of the Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat (SWOT) analysis technique that I learned during that marketing class. Every strength, I observed, is the other side of something that was also a weakness; every opportunity involved a threat and threat involved opportunity. With the four individuals we currently have before us seeking the White House, there's a lot of Strength and Opportunity. They are all excellent individuals who would lead us firmly in particular directions.

[The cynical side of me wonders how much power the US President actually has, anyway, hemmed in as he/she is by the checks and balances the founding fathers put in place. Amongst all of us given the opportunity to cooperate (or not), I suppose the President and his/her running mate have a larger portion of governmental influence than any other single individual is granted by charter. If I consider us all as ants moving the country along, the President would be a particularly big ant.]

So this public servant is thinking about how politics overturned the congressional world back in May 2001. I'm glad that my job is insulated from the changes in the executive office. I don't have to prepare two sets of websites or viewgraphs or life plans to poise myself for the aftermath of the new President's inauguration in January 2009.

In fact, not only will I not have to be poised to jump based on the outcome of this election, I remembered that, as a public servant living near DC, I usually get an extra holiday when the new president gets inaugurated. Since January 20 (the traditional inauguration date since 1937) falls on a Tuesday in 2009, I really do get an extra holiday.

Now to turn off my TV and radio to concentrate on writing my fiction, where people's decisions about their leader had life-altering repercussions, tearing my protagonist's family apart. As I contemplate the mild political isometrics involved in our quadrennial examination of our national leadership, I remain grateful that my family will hardly notice the 2009 change in leadership in any substantial way.

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