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.
And he’s collecting endorsements from the lights of the technology focused transparency movement, like Stanford law professor Larry Lessig, and Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, which supports CJR’s transparency reporting. Those will be compiled, along with about a thousand other endorsements that Malamud has collected—tweets, blog posts, e-mails, and maybe even Facebook campaign friends—into Giegengack style books. They’ll be available for public download, and he plans to FedEx them to the White House personnel director, and to give copies to people he knows who work for or are close to the president, including Podesta.
“If they like the book, maybe they will shuttle it over to someplace that matters,” says Malamud. “There is at least a possibility that the people appointing this position might think it’s time for a change.”
Malamud says he won’t stop his campaign until he or someone else is appointed public printer—and he admits the latter scenario is “highly likely.” Even if he doesn’t get the job, he sees reasons to be pleased with the campaign.
“We’ve had a couple of very successful outcomes so far. A good five, ten thousand people, maybe much more, now know what the Government Printing Office is and what it does. There’s a thousand people who care enough about this to want to influence this agency. I think that’s really key,” says Malamud. “It’s been a valuable exercise if nothing else.“
“I want the job and I’m willing to be patient. If they want to come back in three years, I’ll probably still do it then,” he says. “And I’ll continue to do GPO-like work anyway.”