Everyone knows by then who has been elected. But I'm thinking of the folks who emerged last December from eight-year hibernation to play musical chairs for one of the 3,000 to 5,000 top noncareer, nonelected appointed staff posts. They come in one of five varieties:
- The Early Birds -- They vanished into the Obama bubble in December or early January and unless you have official business to conduct with them, fuhgeddaboudit!
- The Puffinbirds -- They have literally 15 seconds of fame and hint at what they would tell you if they could, but they're just performing their one-shot emergency deed so the Early Birds can carry out new policy "X." They know where some bodies are buried, but they're utterly dispensable technocratic Mr. Fix-Its with no real power and no real secrets.
- The Screechers -- They're quotable and talk in vivid terms about issues from a perspective compatible with that of the Obama Administration, but they weren't invited to the party and they haven't heard from any of their longtime friends who now work in the White House.
- The Hangdogs -- The loyal supporters who slaved in other Democratic administrations but since settled into comfortable lobbying, academic or even -- gasp! -- out-of-the-Beltway activities. No one is talking to them, even though they know countless fascinating background details.
- The Cheshires -- They sometimes look similar to the Hangdogs but are really late-developing Early Birds. They're sitting quietly biding their time, sure their turn is coming. If you don't know who they are, no one will tell you.