Barack Obama Politics

Piercing the White House Bubble

Eli Saslow in the Washington Post quotes White House scheduler Alyssa Mastromonaco who was perhaps unintentionally revealing in her formulation of people not to be kept waiting:

“Since we’ve gotten to the White House, the president has told us that there’s too much padding and things can be back to back because he needs to fit a lot into the day,” Mastromonaco said. “I still err with caution, because you don’t want someone like Secretary Clinton or a foreign leader waiting for 40 minutes. But he feels like ‘I’m here.’ And he wants to get things done.”

“Someone like Secretary Clinton or a foreign leader” – as opposed to a Cabinet Secretary or a foreign leader; or Tony Blair or Hillary Clinton. It makes it seem as if Obama’s staff is treating Hillary Clinton with a kind of distant respect rather than camraderie. 

The article later goes on to describe the steps which Obama takes to remain in contact with a somewhat normal life:

Younger staff members said Obama likes to be kept up on their gossip about weekend nights and new girlfriends and feels left out anytime he’s the last to know what’s going on in their lives. On Super Bowl Sunday, he invited a few dozen people to the White House for a party and implemented two rules: no talking about politics and no posed pictures. Instead, Obama instructed a personal photographer to follow him during the party and take candid shots of him chatting with his guests, which would be mailed to them later. Obama explained to a few congressmen in attendance that he wanted to feel like a part of the group, not apart from it.

Still, whenever Obama hosts, his guests must first submit their Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and cities of birth to the Secret Service – a screening process for which Obama has sometimes felt compelled to apologize.

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