The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) sounds like one heck of a time. According to a recent Washington Post report, the office tasked with vetting presidential appointees had the audacity to partake in alcoholic drinking games, happy hours, and even use of tobacco products. Egads!
“The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) is little known outside political circles. But it has far-reaching influence as a gateway for the appointed officials who carry out the president’s policies and run federal agencies.
Under President Donald Trump, the office was launched with far fewer people than in prior administrations. It has served as a refuge for young campaign workers, a stopover for senior officials on their way to other posts and a source of jobs for friends and family, a Washington Post investigation found. One senior staffer has had four relatives receive appointments through the office.
On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to surround himself “only with the best and most serious people,” but his administration has been buffeted by failed appointments and vacancies in key posts.
From the start, the office struggled to keep pace with its enormous responsibilities, with only about 30 employees on hand, less than a third of the staffing in prior administrations, The Post found. Six senior officials over age 35 went elsewhere in government just months after their arrival, documents and interviews show. Since the inauguration, most of the staffers in the PPO have been in their 20s, some with little professional experience apart from their work on Trump’s campaign, The Post found."
Even as the demands to fill government mounted, the PPO offices on the first floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became something of a social hub, where young staffers from throughout the administration stopped by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes, known as vaping, current and former White House officials said.
PPO leaders hosted happy hours last year in their offices that included beer, wine and snacks for dozens of PPO employees and White House liaisons who work in federal agencies, White House officials confirmed. In January, they played a drinking game in the office called “Icing” to celebrate the deputy director’s 30th birthday. Icing involves hiding a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, a flavored malt liquor, and demanding that the person who discovers it, in this case the deputy director, guzzle it.
The White House confirmed that PPO officials played the Icing game but said it and the happy hours are not unique to the PPO and are a way to network and let off steam.”
Believe it or not, all of that is fairly common in a lot of government offices. Republican Governor Charlie Baker even allowed himself to be filmed on St. Patrick’s Day ripping a shot of tequila in Southie with the denizens of Boston to celebrate the closest that the Irish will ever get to Christmas.
But, as noted by White House spokesperson Raj Sah, what should actually be taken seriously is the Democrats' obstruction of key appointees in the Trump administration.
“Despite historic obstruction from Democrats in Congress, the Presidential Personnel Office is filling the administration with the best and brightest appointees who share the president’s vision for the country,” said Raj Shah, White House principal deputy press secretary. “Staff work tirelessly and have experience consistent with the practice of previous administrations.”
Surely, maybe there should be some concern if taxpayer dollars are being wasted on pure fun and games. But when people criticize President Trump for drinking dozens of Diet Cokes a day and liberals admonish Vice President Pence for not having alcohol around women sans his wife, it is very difficult to take these kinds of complaints to heart.