Is the Obama Administration Under the Influence?

As the Washington Post points out today, it's been more than six months since the Obama administration took over the White House. And Obama staffers are apparently already on the brink of exhaustion.

"This is a place, because of the stress, the schedule and the sheer hours," declares White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, "that just chews people up and spits them out. I felt like a heavyweight boxer lying on the mat."

And if that isn't bad enough, Gene Sperling, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, blames the government for ruining his weekends too! "What was striking about the 24/7 was the 7," Sperling told the Post. "Between every financial crisis response, autos, recovery—weekends could be a nonstop conference call."

But it's the end of the article that's really revealing:

One study conducted for the British Parliament found that "mental fatigue affects cognitive performance, leading to errors of judgement, microsleeps (lasting for seconds or minutes), mood swings and poor motivation." The effect, it found, is equal to a blood alcohol level of .10 percent—above the legal limit to drive in the United States.

So does this mean Obama and his staffers are micro-managing the U.S. economy while figuratively and literally intoxicated? It definitely gives new meaning to the expression drunk with power. The Post continues:

Obama is now testing the limits of his staffers' endurance. So far, there is a palpable sense of pride in the West Wing that treaties are negotiated, complex legislation is crafted and banks are bailed out—all on very little sleep.

I, for one, would be willing to grant White House staffers a few more hours of sleep in exchange for a few less bailouts and pieces of "complex legislation."

Whole article here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I daresay Obama and his appointees were drunk with power from day one. But it's an interesting question--how much does Beltway Fatigue Syndrome play into what we see come out of DC?

    One of the real problems is the idea that the federal government (1) has the power to do something about everything and (2) the federal government should do something about everything.

  • SIV||

    One study conducted for the British Parliament found that "mental fatigue affects cognitive performance, leading to errors of judgement, microsleeps (lasting for seconds or minutes), mood swings and poor motivation." The effect, it found, is equal to a blood alcohol level of .10 percent-above the legal limit to drive in the United States.

    Threaten to withhold Federal Highway funds to any state that doesn't immediately raise the intoxication standard to .12 percent.

    Problem solved!

  • Invisible Finger||

    When the constitution was ratified, you had to be 35 to be POTUS, and at age 13 you were basically an adult.

    Now you have to be about 50% older to be considered an adult. With longer life expectancies than the year 1792, I'd say anyone under age 52 is too young to be POTUS. People under age 52 are just too naiive.

    You never saw Reagan try to work 24/7.

  • Telly||

    Drunk with power is the bottom line. Bunch of power junkies.

  • ||

    So far, there is a palpable sense of pride in the West Wing that treaties are negotiated, complex legislation is crafted and banks are bailed out-all on very little sleep.

    Back when I was droning in a law firm, we would read trust indentures and securities offerings and pick out the parts that had obviously been drafted at 3 AM. The drop in quality was clearly visible.

    I firmly believe that you can only do so many hours of high quality mental work in a day. Clearly, this White House is determined to prove me right.

  • EJM||

    If only all world leaders were like Lee Myung-Bak.

  • ||

    There's a certain madness in our culture about having people run on adrenaline. Look at doctors, especially during residency and at hospitals. Or big-firm attorneys. What a great idea--operate with your brain and your judgment at half capacity

  • ||

    .

  • ||

    Doctors no longer have (or are in the process of no longer having) those killer residency hours because some silly-ass lawsuits were filed or threatened.

  • Fluffy||

    Spare me. I have no sympathy for these guys, and not because [like Reason] I don't like the output they've produced and want to see less of it.

    Know why I have no sympathy? Because I bet 90% of the people on any particular conference call or any particular all night meeting didn't have to be there. These guys couldn't go less than 24/7 even if you tried to force them, because that would constitute admitting that they aren't the most important person in government. [Each of them thinks this and tries to act it out.]

    I would bet that 50% of their week's work load consists of making sure that they are seen by everyone as working 24/7. Half of what's left is making sure they aren't left out of all the conference calls and meetings they claim are exhausting them.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Fluffy - I am with you. These guys like being "exhausted". It makes them feel "important".

  • ||

    I agree wholeheartedly with Fluffy. I've seen other programmers who would drink a ton of coffee and code for 16 hours straight, sometimes because there was a deadline, but sometimes because they wanted to be seen by the boss working that much. Guess what? At hour 16, their coding skills were way down, and it would often come back to bite them or others in the ass.

    It's not just that the staffers don't want to be left out; it's that if you slow down just a little, others won't, and they'll look more dedicated than you, and you might also miss something.

  • Rhywun||

    I would bet that 50% of their week's work load consists of making sure that they are seen by everyone as working 24/7.



    Totally. I observe the same behavior at the office, and I refuse to participate. Being single helps.

  • ||

    I saw it in spades at the White House during my fellowship. Like I said, adrenaline junkies.

  • Telly||

    80% of the work gets done by 20% of the people.

    The other 80% of the people just run around doing nothing but telling everyone how busy they are.

  • ||

    Strung out on sleep deprivation, eh?

    I wonder how long it will be till we hear about some white house staffer getting busted for cocaine like Hamilton Jordan?

    This administration is really shaping up to be Jimmy Carter all over again, except for having a far worse economic situation.

    -jcr

  • hmm||

    Sleep deprivation and stress will reek havoc with your judgment. You hear people say this all the time, but few people actually experience it and often people that do experience it don't realize the level to which it effected them. The scary part is most of these people are not trained or ready for such things. The most stressful thing most of these people have done is study for a big exam or test. Even trained individuals can have a hard time dealing with extreme sleep loss and stress.

    I imagine every administration is like this. Presidents look like hell after 4 years and are almost indistinguishable from their former selves after 8. This administration seems to be on a 2 year burnout plan with the young inexperienced people it might be a 1 to 1.5 year plan.

    You know it's nap time when you can't remember how to tie your shoes without the bunny song.

  • LarryA||

    One study conducted for the British Parliament found that "mental fatigue affects cognitive performance, leading to errors of judgement, microsleeps (lasting for seconds or minutes), mood swings and poor motivation." The effect, it found, is equal to a blood alcohol level of .10 percent-above the legal limit to drive in the United States.

    That's only the immediate effect. Long term you continually burn out and have to replace staff, which then have to be trained and brought up to speed.

  • Rich||

    The administrators are just such experts they can do their jobs in their sleep.

    Still, Third Shift Czar, anyone?

  • JB||

    Bunch of drunken louts. I wouldn't mind seeing Gibbs getting his face pummeled.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The effect, it found, is equal to a blood alcohol level of .10 percent-above the legal limit to drive in the United States.

    So, who is going to make the Obama Administration stand on one foot and touch its nose after they finally veer all the way off the road and wrap the economy around a telephone pole?

  • ||

    Fluffy doesn't just win, he fucking crushes the thread.

  • ||

    What's with all these government types working anyways? I'd much prefer they clear some brush.

  • ||

    Fluffy nails it, though I would add that the motivation is not just to be seen as 'working' long hours, but also to be in the loop so that when the opportunity arises to move to the next level they know who needs to be massaged, and what angle needs to be taken, to make it happen.

    Presidents look like hell after 4 years and are almost indistinguishable from their former selves after 8.

    Hate to be a pedant, but I think you mean "unrecognizable as" or something similar.

  • Paul||

    Great, another bunch of liberal work-a-holics, burning the midnight oil to affect change on us all.

    I know I feel better knowing they're not resting.

  • Paul||

    Half of what's left is making sure they aren't left out of all the conference calls and meetings they claim are exhausting them.

    Meetings are social streetlamps drawing the unproductive moths in the company. --unattributed.

    Fantastic quote about business meetings.

  • Paul||

    I've seen other programmers who would drink a ton of coffee and code for 16 hours straight, sometimes because there was a deadline, but sometimes because they wanted to be seen by the boss working that much. Guess what? At hour 16, their coding skills were way down, and it would often come back to bite them or others in the ass.

    Epi, ever read this one?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Rich FTW.

  • ||

    Meetings are social streetlamps drawing the unproductive moths in the company.

    [Organizations] have meetings because they cannot actually masterbate.
    -- Dave Barry

  • Dirk Diggler||

    Thanks Paul. I need to dig that book out and read it again. Great book.

  • ||

    I say Obama should quit, then all these bozos could get some sleep. They surely wouldn't try to burn the candle at both ends for Biden given that he's already only working with half a wick at best.

  • Xeones||

    Ronald Reagan once said, "I don't like to drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake in the afternoon."

    Maybe the whole federal government should just take a vacation for, oh, three and a half years or so. Don't worry, we the people will watch the house.

    Oh, and Fluffy is hell of correct.

  • ||

    As a full-time employed nursing mother of two who is intimately familiar with sleep deprivation after experiencing it for now-going-on 3 years, all I have to say to these whiners is, "boo-fricken-hoo!"

    Also, I'd be perfectly happy if the administration and all its minions took a four-years-long nap. I'll even come to DC to tuck them in with a warm glass of milk.

  • ||

    Fluffy doesn't just win, he fucking crushes the thread.

    I have nothing to add. That is all.

  • ||

    I can only imagine the sympathy these guys are generating from the folks in Iraq and A-stan who are their 3rd or 4th tour. Poor guys, so tired!

  • Some reasons why Carter was a ||

    They were on drugs during the Carter administration--they had an excuse.

    We were on drugs during the Carter administration--we had an excuse.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement