On the evening the new Commander-in-Chief will be chosen, colleagues, supporters, and even former presidents have warned Republican nominee John McCain and Democratic nominee Barack Obama that while the presidency as a whole is difficult, first year, also known as 1P, is by far the most arduous.
"I told Barack that if he wins, he'll need to brace himself for drastic change as a 1P," stated former President Bill Clinton. "It's one thing to excel in Congress or as a state executive but once one graduates to the presidency the game becomes exponentially harder, especially in those first 365 days."
One of the starkest transitions, say former presidential advisers and those knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the White House, is that 1st years have to get used to being judged by the American people in a way that they weren't in their former elected offices.
"The entire grading system is different when one is president," remarked Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and presidential scholar. "As a senator or governor you are only accountable to your state but as president you answer to all the American people. That's some stressful shit."
Another thing that 1Ps must become accustomed to is having every aspect of their lives examined under a microscope.
"I don't think new Commanders-in-Chief fully appreciate that starting from their first day on the job people are all up in their business," claimed Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush. "You can't go out for a nice dinner or even get into a fight with your girl without the whole world knowing. It's like high school all over again."
More generally, say observers, those first few months are especially trying because being president is different than anything these candidates have ever experienced.
"Incoming presidents at first don't have a clue about what they're doing," remarked Dick Morris, a former adviser to Bill Clinton. "They have to learn hundreds of new names and to get used to finding their way around an unfamiliar building. It took Bill over a month just to figure out the White House has six floors and its own bowling alley."
Perhaps the most straining transition for 1Ps is that the material they are working with is qualitatively and quantitatively much more difficult.
"Oh man, the work is so much harder than it was while I was governor," said current President George Bush. "There is tons of reading, all these technical-like reports and such, and, on top of that, I am expected to remember that India and Pakistan aren't the same thing."
Though the first year is extremely taxing, new presidents can at least feel better knowing that possibly by the second and definitely by the third year things become much easier.
"By my 3P year I had being president down," remembered Clinton. "I learned how to skim briefs, use other people's outlines of key policy positions and delegate responsibility such that I barely went to meetings by the end of my first term. That freed up a lot of time for vacations and, you know, some quality time with the ladies."
Republican Candidate John McCain released a statement to the press stating that he believes his experience in Vietnam and in the U.S. Senate has prepared him for the unprecedented rigors of the presidency's first year.
Democratic nominee Barack Obama retorted: "While I applaud John's service both in the military and government he still lacks crucial experience. Unlike Senator McCain, I have endured and survived 1L year of law school. After that, nothing, not even the presidency, can faze me."