What careful vetting looks like

WHAT CAREFUL VETTING LOOKS LIKE…. Planning to apply for a job in the new Obama administration? Be prepared to answer quite a few questions about, well, everything.

A seven-page questionnaire being sent by the office of President-elect Barack Obama to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts may be the most extensive — some say invasive — application ever.

The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.

Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages.

The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.”

The 63rd question covers ground the first 62 questions might have missed: “Please provide any other information, including information about other members of your family, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the president-elect.”

So, here’s my question: will regular folks applying for random bureaucratic positions in the Obama administration get a more through vetting than the one the McCain campaign gave Sarah Palin? I’m guessing, yes.