Monday, Nov. 03, 2008


Whatever else awaits inside the protective cocoon that the Secret Service will quickly erect around the 44th President on Tuesday night, there isn't much to read on the topic of "How to Lead the Country Now." Nor is there any crystal vase on the hall table at the presidential guest residence, Blair House, with a sign that reads "Break Glass in the Event of Collecting 270 Electoral Votes." And despite what you might imagine after seeing those Nicolas Cage National Treasure movies, there is no secret binder of special instructions awaiting the President-elect in the National Archives.

And yet in 24 hours, either Barack Obama or John McCain will quickly put the long campaign behind him and turn to taking over the most powerful government — and at the moment, among the most fiscally distressed — on earth.

So what does the winner do first?