What Malamud’s retelling neglects to mention is that the guy who took the bound letters, the guy “who knew somebody who knew somebody,” was James Farley, FDR’s campaign manager; after the 1932 election, the president installed him as Postmaster General and chair of the Democratic National Committee. Giegengack got to know Farley by joining his Long Island bedroom community’s Democratic local, and then engineering a major fundraising dinner in Farley’s honor.
“He’s a totally different kind of person,” Malamud admits. “But I was inspired by the story.” Still, he points to his relationship with John Podesta, who led the Obama transition team, and has his fingers in many Washington pots.
The two met in the summer of 1993, when the Clinton White House contacted Malamud, then running an Internet radio broadcast from a few blocks away at the National Press Club, for assistance in setting up a infrared link for an online demonstration. (“They asked whether I could see the White House lawn from the press building, and we went up to the roof, and we could,” remembers Malamud.) He later served as the Chief Technology Officer of Podesta’s Center for American Progress, where he mixed policy work with upgrading and overseeing the nonprofit’s computer systems.
Alas, when The New York Times recently asked Podesta about Malamud’s efforts to earn an appointment, they got a non-committal “He would certainly shake things up.”
There’s another big difference between Malamud and Giegengack. Giegengack was a press and ink printer—he’d managed several print operations with staffs numbering into the hundreds; by the time of his appointment, he’d held the presidencies of the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen and the New York State Typographers Association.
In fact, 44 USC Sec. 301 explicitly says that the Public Printer “must be a practical printer and versed in the art of bookbinding.”
But as Malamud points out, like many an ambassador whose diplomatic qualifications stop at having a well-stamped passport, the requirement has often been ignored or lightly enforced.
“I’m doing a positive campaign, but go look at the current Public Printer’s resume, and look at how many years he spent as a congressional aide and in office, and I think you’ll find—he designed menus in high school. That’s what he did,” says Malamud.
In any case, Malamud is ready to tick off his qualifications.
“I typeset all eight of my books. I worked in newsrooms, I have run Linotypes. Actually my first book, I typeset running troff on a Windows 3.1 machine and hooking it up directly to a film based type setter,” said Malamud. “I created the first radio station on the Internet. I think that’s skilled in the publishing arts and, as we know, that language is more general than simply printing.
“Most importantly, when it comes to publishing government information, I published in 2008 32.4 million pages, and so far in 2009 I’ve published 50 million pages. So I think by the definition of printing today, I definitely am skilled.
“And I would hire a very skilled deputy public printer who really understood production printing. I’m no dummy.”
Malamud is working hard on rallying a posse to support his bid.
He’s asking the public (and potential endorsees) to vet him, and, on his Web site offers a handy timeline of his writings, press clips, and other documents that might illuminate his life (in 1986, he spent a year at Georgetown Law netting two B-pluses and an A-minus). He’s held a Twitter rally, where, shortly before doling out a thirteen-part speech in 140 characters or less, he recommended attendees stream a Marine band performance of Fanfare for the Common Man, among other tunes available from the Library of Congress’s public domain collection.