TIME

LIFE AT 1600

It’s one thing to be elected President of the U.S. Learning how to do the job usually takes longer
A view of the Oval Office in February 2009

A PRESIDENTIAL HANDOFF COMES WITH ESTABLISHED RITES AND RITUALS, some political, others personal, all a measure of the weight bearing down on the rising leader of the free world: a meeting (or meetings) between incoming and outgoing Presidents, a summit for their lieutenants and Cabinet officers, that first glimpse into the secret compartments of national security and the fearsome threats abounding, the tour of the living quarters by the First Ladies, a conversation about the kids. Eight years ago, when George W. Bush hosted a White House welcome lunch for President-elect Barack Obama and all the living former Presidents, some of the talk was about the economy and al-Qaeda, but much was about how you raise a family in the world’s most turbulent fishbowl. These sessions aren’t required by law, but

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