Hibernation Nation // The White House enters a state of permanent permafrost

From the Corps’ Core: When They Go High, We Furlough
“They’ve ordered us to keep all the other lights off, as a cost-saving measure while the government remains shut down,” the straight-faced Secret Service agent replied when I asked him why every light in the northwest entrance security booth was off with a single fixture being the exception.

But no, that isn’t the case. The White House isn’t skimping on its electric bill, and I found the agent’s deadpan hilarious. Unlikely as it may seem, many Secret Service agents have senses of humor that are both astute and amiable, and those of us who work in the West Wing on a regular basis have long since been exposed to this best-kept secret of Secret Service wittiness.

The reason behind all those lights being off at that particular time is not something I ever expect closure on; but nonetheless, there are a number of noticeable differences at the White House while the government is in shutdown mode.

Workstations in the press area of the West Wing have been sitting empty for weeks, as handlers and press assistants have all been furloughed. One or two “essential” staffers, at times transferred from one of the other departments, will end up doing the jobs that would have otherwise taken a team of four to eight individuals to handle. As far as the press itself goes, many correspondents and their corresponding crews have been temporarily reassigned to either Capitol Hill or elsewhere, since there’s almost no one at the White House from whom to corroborate details or solicit quotes. There are days when the White House does not even release a schedule or simply makes it up on the fly, and many bureaus will reassign their team to cover something else rather than have them sit around all day waiting for something to develop.

But the good news is that both the press secretary and communications director are going without a gatekeeper whose job is to keep reporters at bay. In fact, there seems to be much greater accessibility to senior staff and certain Cabinet officials, who are more likely to roam the West Wing by their lonesome. Still, it doesn’t mean they’d be willing to discuss anything on the record.

Snide Note:
A Hole in One’s Schedule
Aside from foreign trips and visits to Capitol Hill, President Trump finds himself in the midst of his longest run without a game of golf. His last game? Exactly two months ago. And while you may have a difficult time recalling the last time you went out for a round of golf, the president, over the past two years, has reportedly spent between 15 and 20 percent of his presidency on a golf course (although oftentimes the White House wouldn’t confirm whether the president had engaged in the pastime, at times going to extreme lengths to keep the press from getting too close). Times, I suppose, are tough for everyone. Even the president himself. Not just the furloughed government employees, not just border patrol, not just the migrants, and as she found out the hard way—for Speaker Pelosi, too.

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