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Tom C. Korologos -- A Guide to a Sane Life in the White House

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By Tom C. Korologos
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Memo to the White House staff:

Congratulations on your appointment. Here follows a handy list as you begin your duties in the White House.

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Pinch yourself every day and repeat, "This is not a dream."

You don't have to work at the White House. You get to work at the White House. It's a real treat to work there. You are a caretaker, so take good care of it. The hours are long and demanding, but take advantage of the opportunities offered. Bring your kids in to have lunch in the White House mess on Saturdays. Bring friends and relatives to arrival ceremonies, to the Christmas parties and the Easter egg hunts, because it will all soon be over.

Once you're inside, you need to figure out a way to get out. There is never a good time to move on to another job. So start thinking about an exit plan on the first day.

You have no personal views when it comes to discussing the president's policies. You represent him 24-7 and in every detail.

One of your most important assignments is to keep the trash of government from the president. Keep the president away from intramural government debates. The Cabinet should exhaust all the options and disputes before they rise to the president.

In congressional affairs, half your time will be spent explaining the White House to Congress and the other half explaining Congress to the White House.

Leave the media and public relations to the media and public relations shop. You are likely to undercut a policy or create problems.

You are never permitted to utter the words "It will be vetoed." Only the president can say that. The closest you can come is: "The staff will recommend a veto."

The White House is a building. Buildings do not speak. Remember that everybody will take your call when you are calling from the White House. Take note of those who will accept your call after you've gone. Dial your own calls; your assistant will screen the incoming.

Return calls in the following order: The president. The vice president. Your wife. Your kids. Congressional leadership. Others as time permits -- also see next item.


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