The XX Factor

Government Shutdown: No Interns in the White House This Time

At the turn of the millennium, Time ran a poll on the 100 worst ideas of the century . One of those ideas was the decision to “[Staff] the White House with Interns During the Government Shutdown.” The punchline, of course, is that Bill Clinton only began the ill-fated affair in which he did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky, because she and other interns were filling in for ” nonessential” White House employees during the ’95 shutdown . She brought him pizza late at night; the rest is history.

Maybe it’s a history the Obama administration has been studying. Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty tweeted jokingly yesterday, “Lesson from last government shutdown: All interns should be declared non-essential. Also, no pizza deliveries.” White House interns are still unpaid , and so I’d assume they could technically pick up clerical and other duties during a potential shutdown, in which nonessential salaried employees would be barred from working. But a White House press person told me that interns won’t be reporting for duty if there’s a shutdown. (He didn’t know why, precisely, and the Office of Management and Budget didn’t reply to e-mails on the subject-in all fairness, it’s probably been a busy couple days for them.) As for pizza delivery, one White House intern told me his cohort prefers to go across the street to G Street Food for on-the-job sustenance these days (though it closes at 4 p.m, so I suppose all bets are off after that).