30 April 2010

The 20-somethings running the free world

In the NY Times Magazine, Ashley Parker looks at the lives of 20-something White House staffers. At a party thrown by a few staffers at their shared house in Dupont Circle:

Downstairs in the kitchen, a collection of young West Wing aides, former members of the advance staff on the campaign, newly minted press officers, White House softball regulars and the occasional journalist crowded in front of half a dozen bottles of cheap liquor, trying to get a drink. Obama’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, a sloe-eyed 28-year-old, was politely letting a stream of people cut in front of him to refill their beer, only to step up to find a dwindling trickle of foam. The keg was kicked.

Back by the front door, Ziskend’s eyes widened. “Look who just walked in!” he said. “The counsel.” It was the principal deputy White House counsel, Daniel Meltzer, who is 58, in a pale green T-shirt and slacks. “Looks like you’re O.K. here,” he said to Lesser, surveying the sweaty scene.

“You have to do a keg stand,” Lesser said.
When I think of the White House and other hallowed government institutions, I conjure a feeling of almost religious reverence. A sacred ideal of people who hold such power and sway over our country and world -- certainly they must be old and wise and very serious. But ultimately, they're just...people. Like you and me. They are, for the most part, smart and capable, but they also occasionally trip walking up some stairs, fall in and out of love, and spill on themselves at lunch.

I think it's pretty shocking for people to learn the young ages of the majority of staff for campaigns and in government, and these young staff people are the ones doing a lot of the researching and writing that eventually becomes policy pushed by their older and more visible bosses. Not that their youthfulness makes them inherently bad at what they do, but I've wondered if campaign staff were a little older (perhaps a little mellower), might we have calmer political debates? Maybe. Maybe not.

Anywho, all of this reminds me: have you seen In the Loop? You haven't? You need to. Seriously, Netflix it right now. One of the best movies of 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment