Former Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco is well acquainted with the privilege — and sleeplessness — of working in the White House: “I basically ran on adrenaline, almost, for six years,” she says.
Mastromonaco began as President Obama’s director of scheduling and advance, then became his deputy chief of staff for operations. Her responsibilities ran the gamut from overseeing the confirmation process for cabinet secretaries to managing the president’s daily schedule and foreign travel.
Mastromonaco remembers boarding Air Force One for the first time as a “humbling, awe-inspiring” experience. “There is nothing like walking off the steps of Air Force One,” she says. “You always feel so proud. The reception, too, of other people in countries, when they see that beautiful blue and white plane, it always gives you goosebumps.”
But, she adds, the presidential plane wasn’t always the most comfortable way to travel — especially on overnight flights. “There aren’t beds for us on Air Force One,” Mastromonaco says. “We had those Snuggies that you buy on QVC and we would sleep on the floor … and then you’d get up and everybody shares two bathrooms.”
Though Mastromonaco loved her work for the president, the unrelenting pace took a toll on her. In 2014, she decided to move on. Now an executive at A&E networks, Mastromonaco revisits her White House years in the new memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
It’s the oldest trope in shows about politicians: Get caught doing something dumb or terrible, and you might as well start applying for a job at Burger King.
House Of Cards, which started as an over-the-top melodrama but now looks like a throwback to a distant era when our politicians were restrained and likable, has a plot in which Frank Underwood’s presidential campaign is nearly derailed when a photo of his father shaking hands with a KKK member emerges. Then, right when he manages to smooth that over, another photo is released of him shaking hands with a Confederate Civil War reenactor – bad news for a Democrat who needs to win the Southern black vote. Cue sad trombone sound! Frank does eventually win his party’s primary, but the photos were damaging enough that he loses his home state, an embarrassing defeat that teaches him the valuable lesson that you should never shake hands with anyone, in case it comes back to haunt you.
Everything that’s damaged or destroyed these fictional careers has already popped up during the current administration, only to bounce off of Trump like an anemic Nerf dart. Trump’s father was arrested at a 1927 riot instigated by the KKK – who incidentally, are still big fans of the Trump name.
I made this Jed Bartlet campaign poster to help me keep my sanity and for my own enjoyment. Most of the time I don’t get to make things for myself. My wife and I are huge fans of the West Wing. I often wish it was real, hence the poster slogan. It’s available on my etsy shop with half the proceeds going to the IRC.
I’ve been working on a portrait series of characters from The West Wing, all done in Mischief software on my Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. There will be a few more before I’m done, and I’m going to work on some kind of poster with them all in it.