Great news: WH officials want to run health care while effectively drunk

Victor Joecks

Well, to be fair, it’s not just health care. They also want to run energy policy, car companies and banks while effectively drunk.

No joke.

“We stay late every night, work weekends — basically on 24/7,” Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council, wrote in an e-mail while on a recent trip abroad. “Not sure what example to give you but here I am at 12:30 am in Islamabad with General [James L.] Jones and answering your email,” he wrote, referring to the national security adviser.

During the first two months of the administration, White House and Treasury officials tried to deal with the worsening economy almost without a break. The image of senior economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers nodding off during a presidential meeting with credit card executives became the emblem of that period.

Behind the scenes, it was even worse. The night before Obama announced the administration’s housing plan on Feb. 18 in Arizona, Sperling e-mailed the final documents at 3 a.m. and asked for comments. Five people responded immediately.

Martin Moore-Ede, a former Harvard University professor, calls it the “iron man” syndrome and says the American political workplace is one of the few that still resists a mechanism for ensuring people get rest.

One study conducted for the British Parliament found that “mental fatigue affects cognitive performance, leading to errors of judgement [sic], microsleeps (lasting for seconds or minutes), mood swings and poor motivation.” The effect, it found, is equal to a blood alcohol level of .10 percent — above the legal limit to drive in the United States.

If this were a private industry, the government would have already stepped in and started regulating the amount of sleep White House staffers get.

Instead, White House officials think they are so smart that, even though they’re effectively drunk, they can still run your life better than you. Unsurprisingly, they’re failing.

Let’s make sure these sleep-drunk government bureaucrats don’t get to run any more of our lives.