Is the Obama Administration Under the Influence?


Larry Summers

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.