First Lady Michelle Obama’s East Wing staff has an unusually high turnover rate. It took former First Lady Laura Bush six years to achieve the staff turnover Michelle Obama has reached in two years. I don’t know much about the public sector - I only lasted there four weeks -but in the private sector, high turnover rates are normally due to the management style of the folks at the top. But according to Politico, it’s just due to the operation being “polished and disciplined.” Oh, and her skin color.
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.
“She is, if possible, under more scrutiny than even other modern first ladies, being the first African-American first lady,” said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who specializes in first ladies. “She also represents a new generation, really the first post-boomer generation of first lady.”
You have to go to the second and third pages before realizing there may be some sort of personality problem going on.
Pressure on the first lady can trickle down to the staff level, exacerbating internal tensions among aides and occasional conflict with the West Wing, sources said. “For whatever reason,” said one source familiar with the office, the first lady’s staff just hasn’t “gelled.”
“You don’t take these sorts of jobs unless you love the principal [figure],” the source said. “And you can deal with a principal who has high expectations when you’re all gelling as a group, but that just wasn’t happening.”
Still, pretty mild. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll wind up on the enemies list. Then again, it could just be that the First Lady’s lavish travel and party schedule is wearing them out.
Jonathan Block, former deputy press secretary for Laura Bush, said: “The first lady’s staff of roughly 25 is responsible for coordinating all her travel, as well as for executing hundreds of flawless White House events annually. It is perfectly natural that after a year or two of service, many staffers choose to pursue another opportunity in government, or a position with a better work-life balance.”
Or maybe it’s just hard to work for someone who pretends to be on the side of the “little guy” while wearing $2000 dresses or $540 sneakers. Me, I bought a new pair of Keds a few weeks ago and felt guilty because they cost almost $30 after the sales tax. I’d probably feel the same way even if I was a millionaire. If that were the case, I’d still buy the Keds and maybe give the other$500 to my favorite charity. But hey, that’s just me.
H/T Ann Althouse