WASHINGTON, DC—President Clinton once again became the focus of departmental scrutiny Monday when he was written up for the second time in less than a month by his immediate supervisor, presidential second-shift crew manager Diane Helbke. It was the third such incident this pay period for the embattled president.
Clinton, who allegedly forgot to punch out at the end of his 3-11 p.m. shift Sunday, held a nationally televised White House press conference following the write-up, expressing great frustration over what he called the "totally unfair" treatment he has endured working under Helbke.
"My fellow Americans, I stand before you today to tell you that Diane has been riding my ass ever since my re-election," Clinton said. "Further, let us not forget that I was not even hired by Diane. I was hired by Rick, long before Diane even transferred here from the Odana Road office. In fact, I practically have seniority on that bitch. To get elected to the highest office in the United States by this nation's people and then be treated this way is unfair. It is what I would call 'bullshit,' is what it is."
Political analysts noted that if Clinton is written up one more time in the next 90-day "probationary" period, federal policy dictates that he will be subject to severe disciplinary action, including a three-day suspension without pay, reduced priority on the scheduling rotation, and, potentially, termination without a reference.
"According to federal policy as outlined in the information packet Clinton was required to read and sign before taking the oath of office as a presidential trainee in 1992, the hours Clinton worked on the days he forgot to punch out will not be included on his next paycheck, and he will have to wait until the next pay period to be paid for those hours," said Jonathan Roe of the D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute.
The two-week waiting period is intended to serve as a deterrent to Clinton forgetting to punch out in the future.
"If the president cannot learn to follow the same procedure as everybody else, he will jeopardize his position within the organization," read a memorandum posted by management on the White House break room's employee bulletin board.
According to fellow employees, when Clinton arrived for work at the start of his a.m. shift Monday, he was asked to leave his work station and see Helbke in her office.
"She had that real calm voice she only get when she mad," co-worker Jackie Sandusky said. "And when she shut the door, we was all like, 'Ooooweeee... Clinton gonna get it!"
During the 15-minute closed-door conference, Clinton was given a written form containing a detailed description of his latest infraction, as well a complete record of all previous offenses, including his 11 instances of tardiness and four run-ins with supervisors. Clinton was reportedly required to sign the document, which was then placed in his permanent file.
Clinton remains steadfast in his insistence that he is being treated unfairly, and that his supervisor has held a "personal vendetta" against him "from day one."
"Just last week, I needed to get Friday night off for an important state dinner with the Chinese premier," Clinton said. "And the office policy is, if you want time off, you have to write and date your request in Diane's request log at least three weeks in advance. Well, I was in there a full five weeks in advance, okay? But then Kathleen has to go to her sister's baby shower, and suddenly, it's like, now I have to work? I do not believe that is fair, and I do not believe the American people do, either."
Clinton went on to cite numerous other instances in which he said he was treated unfairly by Helbke, including the time she made him work the day of an important Camp David retreat despite the fact that Vice-President Al Gore had already agreed to take his shift, and the time he was not permitted to use the Oval Office phone for a personal call, even though the call was necessary to arrange a ride home from his cousin.
"I ended up having to wait an hour for the bus because of her," he said.
He also recounted several incidents in which he was "singled out" by Helbke for spending too much time in the bathroom, even though he claimed to be using it "no more than anyone else."
Though top Clinton strategists are divided on what course of action the president should take in his ongoing conflicts with Helbke, there is speculation that he will use the Nov. 22 mandatory all-staff meeting as an opportunity to raise several of his complaints about his shift supervisor in front of the regional managers.
Though Clinton is reportedly convinced that his co-workers would "back him up" should such a confrontation occur, some believe that any attempt on the president's part to "go over Helbke's head" would be ill-advised.
"Clinton's got another thing coming if he thinks Sue or Dwayne from the central office are going to side with him against Diane, because she's their little office pet and can do no wrong," said Clinton co-worker Jesse Hagen.
Helbke, meanwhile, is unfazed. "That little Buster Brown is on a one-way ticket to trouble if he doesn't get an attitude adjustment pronto," she said.