I’ve seen several references to this time between the election and the inauguration as an interregnum, and many writers expressing concern that President Bush is still, well, the President until January 20th. The thing is, we don’t have an interregnum because President Bush is still the President. And regardless of one’s wishes, he remains the President until President-elect Obama takes the oath and assumes the office.

One concern is that President Bush will follow tradition and issue a bunch of midnight regulations that will be difficult to overturn. Another is that President Bush, lacking in political authority since he has no more terms in office, will be unable to deal effectively with an emergency of some kind. The example usually given is the present financial tumult. But this is a concern only if one thinks the President some kind of demigod, and the Executive indispensable to daily life — or the orderly functioning of the NYSE.

The machinery of government will function just fine during this transitional period, which is most emphatically not an interregnum.

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