A Campaign Promise Kept

When I was working on my profile of Carl Malamud, the transparency advocate who is running an unconventional campaign to become President Obama’s pick to lead the Government Printing Office as the nation’s 26th Public Printer, I asked him if he was planning on giving one of his campaign books to John Podesta, a major Washington Democrat who led the Obama transition team.

Malamud says he and Podesta met back in the summer of 1993, when Malamud was asked to help set up an infrared link to bring a quick internet connection to the White House for a web demonstration. Malamud later worked for him when he served as Chief Technology Officer at the Center for American Progress. Though Podesta’s been publicly circumspect, in theory, a little support from his old boss could go a long way.

Malamud’s answer to the book question, given with a chuckle, was not surprising: “I’ll give him a copy whether he wants it or not.”

There’s some precedent here. Seventy-plus years ago, Augustus E. Giegengack, a New York printer gunning for the same job, presented a book of testimonial letters to FDR’s campaign manager, Postmaster General, and DNC chair. Giegengack became FDR’s extraordinarily successful Public printer, leading the country through World War II, and all the ration cards it required. Malamud’s appointment strategy is something of Giegengack 2.0, with an endorsement book is made up of tweets, blog posts, and emails.

And, just moments ago, Malamud tweeted confirmation that the book is on its way to Podesta’s hands:

Snuck into CAP to leave book. “Dear John, I want to print” is the inscription.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.