Transitions to the presidency bear wide-ranging consequences for the successes—and failures—of the administrations that follow. Barack Obama's effort in 2008 and early 2009 is no exception. In many ways, it was a successful transition to office. Despite severe economic constraints, the transition paved the way for an ambitious post-inaugural agenda and the first steps toward fleshing out Obama's campaign themes of “hope” and “change.” But all was not perfect. It was a transition that also offers cautionary lessons about how early mistakes, errors, and omissions potentially can hinder that success.