More senior White House staff are to leave in the next few months, adding to the high exit rate from President Barack Obama's administration.
Political analysts attribute the attrition rate to exhaustion, but Republican opponents blame disarray inside the White House, with an insular team responsible for too many policy failures.
The imminent departures include those of defence secretary Robert Gates, who has said he hopes to retire early next year, and Obama's senior White House adviser, David Axelrod, who is planning a return to his home town of Chicago early next year to concentrate on planning for Obama's 2012 re-election bid.
In a blog on the Politico website, Alvin Felzenberg, the presidential historian and author of The Leaders We Deserved, writes: "These departures are a reflection of Obama's leadership style. Why he has such a difficult time earning and retaining the loyalties of people outside his circle of intimates is anyone's guess."
Gibbs last month attributed the changes to 15-or 16-hour work days, seven days a week. Professor Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University, agrees exhaustion is a factor but attributes the exodus to the scale of the problems the team has faced, especially over the economy.
"The exhaustion rate for this administration is more accelerated due to the problems they encountered in January 2009. There was no presidential 'honeymoon'," Baker said today. He added that some of them had been working intensively on economic policy in the six months before Obama took over.
"These are worn-out, depleted people who are not waiting for the fire alarm to be sounded before heading for the emergency exit," Baker said.
They're leaving because they're tired?
What a crock and what a bunch of non-sense.
We know exactly why they're leaving and it has nothing to do with exhaustion, though we can't quite put our hands on the term to describe it. Maybe you can help us out.
It's as if they're simply a bunch of incompetents bumbling around in a completely incompetent administration, governing, prioritizing and administering everything in a completely incompetent manner. They've all figured: "Shit, we're just a bunch of screw-ups and before this whole thing implodes on us and we're left holding the bag, we're getting out of Dodge."
Please let us know in the comment section if you think you know the word of which we are trying in vain to come up with. Thanks.