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Tipsheet

Oh, So That's Why So Many Aides Are Waiting to Flee the Biden White House

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Biden White House is incompetent. We all know this. It’s in their execution. It’s in their policies. It’s now seen in the polling. This guy is on Pluto. We have several crises hitting the nation—and Joe Biden is nowhere to be found. He can’t keep up. He’s too old. And he cannot handle the rigors of the job, which is why his staff does most of the work. His people say the economy is roaring. It’s not. Voters know it’s not, but they’re not changing course on messaging. That’s bad news for working families who are being crippled by the inflation fiasco that Joe’s team doesn’t care about. It’s good political news for Republicans as Biden’s sinking poll numbers show a red tsunami that’s about to crash into DC yet again.

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Yet, what about the Biden White House staff. Isn’t it awesome working for the president even though his brain is oatmeal? No. In fact, it’s a pit of misery. Reports are that scores of White House staff are "eyeing the exits." They can’t stand the work environment. The holiday parties are mostly grounded in a lottery system for staffers. It’s a cold, dark place working for Joe Biden (via Politico):

...many White House aides are feeling gloomy this holiday season, so much so that they anonymously fumed to West Wing Playbook in the hope it may alert senior leaders to the problem.

Many are also currently eyeing the exits, creating the potential for higher-than-usual turnover at the beginning of the year, when aides feel they’ve been in the job long enough that it won’t look odd to depart.

"A lot of the natural coordination that happens in a typically functioning White House has been lost, and there has been no proactive effort to make up for it through intentional team building," said one White House official.

Working at the White House may be a unique gig. But like many other employers, staffers there are experiencing their fair share of burnout. As with many workplaces, more people are working remotely and communication is often done virtually rather than in person, making it more difficult to create an office culture. There have been attempts to try and build camaraderie such as informal happy hours and group dinners. But they’ve largely not done the trick.

Some staffers say it’s the result of an insular, top-heavy White House of longtime Biden aides who are distant from much of the staff — "no new friends in Biden world,” goes the refrain. And others say it’s just poor management.

The small perks of working in the White House, like the chance to take part in holiday parties and ceremonies, have also been in short supply. For the White House’s Independence Day party, most White House staff could only attend if they worked as unpaid volunteers staffing the event, per an email from White House operations sent at the time and shared with us. For the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning and the Christmas tree lighting, attendance was doled out via a lottery system, leaving out many White House aides.

The White House also used a lottery to dole out time slots for holidays tours this week, setting aside three days when staffers could bring their family members to see the building’s elaborate Christmas decor. Most were understanding of the restrictions until White House Operations asked for volunteers to staff five extra day of tours for non-White House staff. Some staffers fumed as "D.C. Randos" posted White House pictures across social media this week, believing that White House staff should have been taken care of first.

“No one expects business as usual during the pandemic, but it’s beyond demoralizing, it’s insulting — especially when you see DNC and Hill staff and other D.C. types get invited,” explained a White House official who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to us. “Many colleagues have brought this up to me unprompted. And I’ve had D.C. friends ask me if I wanted to grab coffee after they attended. Meanwhile, we work here, and most of us haven’t worked here before or stepped foot into the White House.”

The official added: “It’s also hypocritical and ironic that a President whose brand is built on empathy and family has staff policies that fly in the face of that brand. It’s not a good look and it’s emblematic of how this place runs.”

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Christmas parties mean a lot these days, I guess. Still, this looks like it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe this revenge from the senior staff who most certainly read the stories about how aides mute the televisions in the White House when Joe Biden speaks because he’s so painful to watch. It’s a little tit-for-tat action, maybe? Either way, it all feeds into the same narrative that this White House is a total train wreck—and holiday parties were the tipping point for most. Who knew? 

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