The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on the White House, where about 3 out of 4 staffers are being kept off-duty.
Aides on furlough are barred even from checking the Blackberries they usually clutch like worry beads.
Of the 1,701 advisers, assistants,
number-crunchers, butlers, chefs and landscapers at the White House normally, fewer than 450 are working. That's because the rest fall under the unfortunate category of "non-essential."
Obama's aides have strived to maintain a sense of normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal government's nerve center with a skeletal staff has created a sense of mild disarray.
Even the White House switchboard has been set to roll over to a prerecorded message. The message says to call back when the government reopens.