Madhouse:: The Private Turmoil of Working for the President

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Author
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Author Crown Publishers $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8129-2325-4
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Hardcover - 978-0-517-17983-3
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The staying power of an average White House staff member is 18 months. They begin their assignments fresh-faced, but after working 16-hour days with little time for their families or for social life, they become burnouts. Birnbaum, who covers national politics for Time magazine, here looks at six staffers of the Clinton administration and what happened to them in their first two years on the job. Howard Paster, chief congressional lobbyist for the President, was confronted with the Nanny-gate and gays-in-the-military disasters but finally won one with NAFTA. Jeff Eller, the media affairs chief, went from the success of the Clinton campaign to Travelgate, to the failure of the administration's health care program. Bruce Reed, a so-called new Democrat, and Gene Sperling, an old-fashioned liberal, were policy advisers often in conflict over issues, but they remained good friends nevertheless. Dee Dee Myers, press secretary, was one of the few women in the ""White Boys' Club."" Although a favorite of Clinton, she would be cut off from policy decisions by Leon Panetta and David Gergen. Paul Begala, political consultant, who with his partner, James Carville, was most responsible for getting Clinton elected, found that working in the White House was not the same as running a campaign. Birnbaum has captured the utter chaos of the early Clinton White House in a way that will make interesting reading for those who love nuts-and-bolts politics. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
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