5/28/2011

Putting the higher turnover rate for first lady Michelle Obama's staff in its most positive light

If Laura or Barbara Bush or Nancy Reagan had these high staff turnover rates, do you think that the explanation would be it was because it was "an operation known for its polish and discipline." Does that mean that the other first ladies didn't have well polished operations? It would be nice to have some objective evidence on that score.

Less than three years into the job, first lady Michelle Obama is on her third chief of staff and third social secretary. She is on her second communications director, the White House chief usher recently departed, and her press secretary’s last day is Friday.

On Friday afternoon, the first lady’s office announced that the executive director of Obama’s signature campaign to fight childhood obesity also is leaving.

The turnover, greater than under recent first ladies, underscores the pressure and high expectations of working in an operation known for its polish and discipline. A crucial political asset to her husband and his administration, Obama has enjoyed consistently high job approval ratings because of charm, activism — and by avoiding mistakes and controversy.

Sources familiar with the East Wing, who asked not to be named discussing internal dynamics, described the first lady’s office as a challenging workplace, where grueling hours and the expectations of a formidable boss intensify the demands of managing a popular first lady’s schedule, image and agenda. . . .


At the end of the article, there is a quote from someone who worked for Laura Bush in the White House indicating that they also found the job difficult, but I suppose the argument is that the product is so much more polished under Obama.

“It’s the hardest, most demanding schedule that I ever had in 30 years in Washington,” McBride, who worked in three presidential administrations, said of the East Wing. “One of the things you recognize right off the bat is the short amount of time you have to get things done. So you’re driven to do all you can.” . . .

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