In her new memoir, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who served under President George W. Bush, pulls back the curtain on the oval office, including both the physical and mental toll of working there.
Perino writes in "And the Good News Is…Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side"
that "the last seven months were the hardest. … I couldn't sleep without a pill, my stomach wanted only bland foods, and I often forgot to eat until my assistant made me order something," Politico reports
She became so addicted to caffeine "that she took one of the Diet Cokes set out for Bush during an official luncheon in Albania," according to Yahoo News
, and migraine headaches and back pain became so unbearable that she received back adjustments from the president's osteopath three times a week. She also experienced loud ringing in her ears and numbness from her right elbow to her fingertips, symptoms that all disappeared several months after she left the White House in 2009.
Perino, 42, was the first Republican woman to serve as White House press secretary, and only the second woman ever to hold the post. The other, Dee Dee Meyers, served under President Bill Clinton.
Bush appointed Perino following the cancer death of her predecessor, Tony Snow. She served from 2007 until 2009.
The scathing tell-all penned by Scott McClellan, a former Bush press secretary, upset Perino more than Bush, who instructed her to let it go.
"She and Bush were blindsided by the memoir's tone, she writes, and she was upset and worried about how to respond to the media," according to Yahoo.
"She says Bush summoned her to the Oval Office and told her to forgive McClellan and not let the book distract from the important work they needed to do. She asked Bush, 'can I throw him under the bus first?' She writes that Bush told her no and added as she walked out, 'by the way, I don't think you'd ever do this to me.' "
Perino makes sure readers understand that McClellan was fired from his post and did not leave of his own accord.
"Despite Scott's hard work and determination, his briefings were unnecessarily heated and often ineffective. … Scott failed to gain a foothold and lost the confidence of many reporters and some senior staff in the White House," she writes.
"When the new chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, took over in 2006, one of the decisions he made was to replace Scott … Though we knew internally that Scott was being fired, we managed to maintain in the press that after six years of being on the campaign and in the White House, Scott was going to move on to the next great opportunity in front of him."
She speaks kindly of President Barack Obama, who she met at a dinner after he was elected to the Senate.
"We laughed our butts off for four hours," she wrote, adding that Obama also made a point to introduce her to his wife, Politico reports.
When she ran into him a few years later, after Obama became the Democratic presidential nominee, he gave Perino a hug and told a roomful of people that "the night they spent together was his favorite of all time in Washington."
"I really turned red — especially since I wasn't sure everyone else knew what he was talking about!" she wrote.
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