A Beginner's Guide Clinton Really Needed

Robert Redford poses it at the end of The Candidate, but you know every presidential victor has asked it on election night: "What do we do now?"

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRRobert Redford poses it at the end of The Candidate, but you know every presidential victor has asked it on election night: "What do we do now?" In the works for 50 years, there's finally an answer. Actually, it's more a handbook, and it comes from legendary White House scholar Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. "It's my life in elections and transitions," says the veteran of three White Houses dating back to Eisenhower. "It's a workbook for new presidents," he adds of What Do We Do Now?—out by Election Day.

Hess's workbook is a must for the incoming administration. He touches on everything from decorating the Oval Office, dodging cabinet nomination fights, and penning a memorable inaugural address to firing bumbling aides. He gives inspirational case studies—and duncelike examples, many featuring Bill Clinton, who could have used Hess's advice. Like: Act first on campaign promises, not press questions, like the gays in the military issue that tripped Bubba up. Don't pick non-Washington friends, as Clinton did with grade-school pal Thomas "Mack" McLarty, for top insider jobs. "Hillary Clinton won't like this book," says Hess. "If a new president spent one hour reading this," says Hess, "they'd be able to more clearly consider the order of what they have to do." He adds: "Maybe they could recall and tap these ideas as things go by."

To find out more on how to be president, check out my inaugural Washington Whispers podcast here.