Commentary: Donaldson Examines Obama Job Application

Donaldson examines the 63 question application for senior White House posts.

Nov. 13, 2008 — -- The following is a commentary by ABC News' Sam Donaldson. Click here to view a video version of his latest essay.

The New York Times has provided a link to obtain the job application Barack Obama is asking people in line for senior positions in his administration to fill out. Download it and see how you might answer the 63 questions, yes 63, most of which make sense. Tax information, financial information, questions about potential conflicts of interest, things you might have written that are warped, groups you may have belonged to that are anti-social -- a new one in this age: list all Internet aliases or handles -- lots of stuff that a new president not wanting to hire the wrong people would and should know.

But how about this one -- have you ever kept a diary that could contain anything that might be an embarrassment to the president-elect if it were made public? Please describe.

Who is going to fill out what they may have said in their secret diary about people and desires… and although you might never have written anything that would embarrass you, who knows what might embarrass Obama?

How about this one -- have you ever been charged by any law enforcement agency with violating any law or regulation (excluding traffic tickets under 50 dollars)? Yes, when I was 19 the state of Texas took away my drivers license for three months for accumulating lots of speeding tickets. But I don't want a job so never mind.

And this one -- please list the names, addresses and phone numbers of cohabitants within the last ten years… that's a person with whom you share bonds of affection. Are they kidding?

Do you own a gun and how do you use it? Yes… but not to shoot people.

Finally, have you had any association with any person that would be used -- even unfairly -- to impugn or attack your character? Yes, I once served on a board with Bill Ayers. Probably the Obama people would understand that, but in fact, I once served on a board with a guy who was arrested for a murder he committed years before and when last heard of he was residing in the State Pen. Would they understand that?

I don't think any normal person could honestly answer all these 63 questions in a way that would never raise a red flag that someone in the Obama transition team might decide was a disqualifier.

Then, too, if the president-elect truly means to fill his administration with a cross-section of typical Americans, he needs people who can't answer this questionnaire perfectly.

Why, the rabbi who once angrily knocked over the tables of merchants -- money changers -- certainly an embarrassment in that day to some -- might not pass this one.

Sam Donaldson, a 41-year ABC News veteran, served two appointments as chief White House correspondent for ABC News, from 1977-1989 and from January 1998 to August 1999, covering Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton. Donaldson also co-anchored, with Diane Sawyer, "PrimeTime Live," from August 1989 until it merged with "20/20" in 1999. He co-anchored the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, "This Week With Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts," from December 1996 to September 2002. Currently, Donaldson appears on ABC News Now, the ABC News digital network, in a daily show called "Politics Live."