Michelle Obama's staff turnover rate is a bit higher than it was for previous first ladies. In just under three years, she has gone through three chiefs of staff, three secretaries, two communication directors and, as of today, her press secretary will be making a grand exit. So, why the mass exodus, you ask? According to an expert in Politico, it may have something to do with her skin color:
“She is, if possible, under more scrutiny than even other modern first ladies, being the first African-American first lady,” said Katherine Jellison, a history professor at Ohio University who specializes in first ladies. “She also represents a new generation, really the first post-boomer generation of first lady.”
While the idea that people are being driven away due to stress and scrutiny has its merits, some would argue that Obama's treatment in media and society hasn't differed greatly from that of other first ladies (some may even claim she's received more favorable media coverage at various times during her husband's first term). Jellison's argument's seem oddly similar to Rep. Clyburn's (who said that President Obama's problems are the result of "the color of his skin"). Others claim that she can be tough to work for:
Sources familiar with the East Wing, who asked not to be named discussing internal dynamics, described the first lady’s office as a challenging workplace, where grueling hours and the expectations of a formidable boss intensify the demands of managing a popular first lady’s schedule, image and agenda.
“The first lady is a lovely woman, but she’s tough as nails, and that can be hard for some people,” said a source familiar with the office. “She has really high expectations.”
There's nothing wrong with wanting jobs done well. In fact, the notion that she pushes her staff so hard is, in a way, a testament to taxpayer dollars well spent and earned. Let's not forget that the First Lady is a mother to two young girls as well. With her position in government and in her family, she's likely under a great deal of pressure. Whether this impacts her staff or not can't really be known.
Hopefully, for efficiency's sake, she can get some staff members in the door who are willing to stick around for awhile.