White House Aides Are Burned Out

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A gig at the White House isn't for the faint of heart: an already-hectic environment is compounded by long hours spent reacting to, among other things, the voracious media machine. Which is apparently why there is near-constant personnel turnover as staffers leave for comparatively leisurely corporate, non-profit or think-tank positions. In an article for The New York Times, Peter Baker highlights the latest exodus of staffers as the Obama administration hits the eighteen month mark. The focal point of the story revolved around Linda Douglass, a communications aide who regularly worked twelve hour days: “I got to the point where I was almost traumatized by how hard I was working and how much stress I was feeling all the time," she recalled to the The Times.

But Baker's sympathetic angle may have missed a more practical point. Foreign Policy's Daniel W. Drezner riffed on the article with this headline, News Flash--White House Jobs are Exhausting, before proceeding to explain the real reason why the high turnover rate of staffers matters:

On its own, this phenomenon wouldn't be that big of a deal -- indeed, some personnel churn is likely a good thing, prevents groupthink and all that.  The problem is that this trend is intersecting with another one -- the increasing length of time it takes to appoint and confirm high-level personnel ...With greater fixed costs involved in vetting and shepharding people through the confirmation process, presidents will be exceedingly reluctant to let these people go, which means that many of them will stay on for longer than perhaps they should. 
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.