Atlantic Magazine Writes Off Clinton White House Transition Vandalism as Mere Pranks

April 22nd, 2016 1:57 PM

Hey, it was just a harmless prank! No real harm done. Ha! Ha!

That is the tone of The Atlantic magazine article explaining away the vandalism performed by the Clinton White House as it transitioned over to the incoming George W. Bush administration. The article is about how tough it is to transition from one White House administration to the next but the real purpose as we shall see is to slam Donald Trump for mishandling a transition that has yet to happen because he hasn't even been nominated yet. First author Russell Berman attempts to explain away a major stain on recent presidential transitions:

The 2001 transition was unexpectedly abbreviated after the monthlong Florida recount, and from a public standpoint, it was memorable mostly for the pranks of junior Clinton staffers who removed the W’s from their computers on their way out the door.

See. No real harm done. All just harmless fun. Right? No, wrong. The removal of the W letters from the computer keyboards was only a part of a larger pattern of vandalism as reported by the New York Times in this 2002 story, White House Vandalized In Transition, G.A.O. Finds.

The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said today that ''damage, theft, vandalism and pranks did occur in the White House complex'' in the presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. The agency put the cost at $13,000 to $14,000, including $4,850 to replace computer keyboards, many with damaged or missing W keys.

Some of the damage, it said, was clearly intentional. Glue was smeared on desk drawers. Messages disparaging President Bush were left on signs and in telephone voice mail. A few of the messages used profane or obscene language.

''A Secret Service report documented the theft of a presidential seal that was 12 inches in diameter from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,'' next to the White House, on Jan. 19, 2001, the accounting office said.

Berman had to get this vandalism incident out of the way by writing it off briefly as a mere prank in order to get to the real purpose of his article which is to slam Donald Trump for a transition that is yet to happen since he hasn't even been nominated yet. He attempts to accomplish this by comparing Trump's imagined future transition to the supposed brilliance of Hillary Clinton:

Politics aside, the candidate with the greatest obvious planning advantage is Hillary Clinton. Of the four remaining major contenders, she is the candidate running most explicitly on her governing experience in Washington.

...Trump’s improvisational campaign doesn’t inspire much confidence in the cadre of ex-government officials who want the candidates to prioritize meticulous transition planning. Asked whether they were worried that Trump’s leadership style could make a mockery of a presidential transition, these advocates offered little more than a hope and a prayer—or a tentative appeal to Trump’s business background.

...In many respects, the years-long push to perfect the presidential transition is made for a candidate like Clinton, who would enter the White House with all of the insider experience her husband lacked when he moved north from Arkansas in 1992. She clearly wants to avoid the early stumbles that have dogged most recent presidents, and the Center for Presidential Transition is offering her a handy guide to do just that. As a candidate who has snubbed the establishment and flouted received political wisdom at every turn, Trump presents the opposite challenge.

Got it? Russell Berman wants you to believe that Hillary will be much better than Trump in attempting a White House transition that hasn't even happened yet.

Exit question: Was Berman wearing a Hillary button while typing up his White House transition tale?