Obama Staffer Invokes Atari to Describe Tech-Challenged White House

A spokesman for President Barack Obama used a comparison of video game consoles to describe what the new administration found upon moving into the White House on Inauguration Day.

Staffer Bill Burton told the Washington Post:

It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari.

We assume he means an Xbox 360…

In any event, Burton was referring to the sorry state of technology that the Obama crowd inherited from the departed Bushies. More from the WaPo:

Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.

What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.

Via: MTV Multiplayer

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  1. MechaTama31 says:

    Wait a minute…  Wasn’t there an enormous stink made about Bush administration officials using private e-mail accounts, and whether such counted as public records?  Why are the new Obama staffers complaining about not being able to open that can of worms?

  2. Alex says:

    "We assume he means an Xbox 360…"

    Why? I’d imagine going from a regular old X-box to an Atari would be just as jarring.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  3. reverandspaniel says:

    The Obama administration has pledged to make government more open and started in motion a law to overturn Bush’s attempts to hide government communications til 5 years after the president/administration concerned was out of office.

    Plus, with them being so tech savvy, they realise the importance of email and instant communication. In this day and age, you just can’t have an administration which relies on memos and post-it-notes.

  4. Vake Xeacons says:

    Dear Lord! There’s our problem right there! No wonder the country’s in such a sorry state. And none of Bush’s staff had any idea they were still living in the 70’s?

  5. Briggs says:

    Not his Blackberry. They had to get a special Blackberry made and cleared by the SS. Cost something like $3500 with all the security stuff on it. Basically only allows telephone and email, no text messaging or instant messaging on it. People are calling it the BarrackBerry.

  6. Weatherlight says:

    Yep the SS cleared him to use his blackberry on a limited basis. But only for basic communication with his staff. They say that it will be recorded, but did not make it clear on what "basic communication" is or what type of staff he will be using it to contact or if it will become public record.

    I remember reading a Yahoo tech article of all the different NSA/CIA approved secure communication devices that he could be forced to exchange his blackberry with and I have to say I liked some of those devices better. Given they dont have the Name brand status, but would allow him to actually use it for everyday communication and most of them had a lot more features then even a high end blackberry.


  7. Weatherlight says:

    I agree, Bush was being very nice to him. I never said anything to the contrary.


  8. BrandonL337 says:

    what about foreing him to stay in a hotel instead of the presidential guest house the traditional home (for lack of a better word) of the president-elect which was occupied by the former Prime minister of Austrailia

    There have always been motherf*ckers, there will always be motherf*ckers, but what we can’t do is let them control our motherf*cking lives. -John Oliver, December 1st, 2008

  9. Illison says:

     Ya is President Obama still using his Blackberry I wonder? I remember reading an article where he was hoping to be able to use his blackberry with a special reciever or somthing that would be able to record everything going on.

  10. olstar18 says:

    I dont think it was refering to just the technology int he office but the fact that because of public record laws he is limited on what forms of electronic communication he can use to make it easier to prove what he said to who and when.

  11. JustChris says:

    You might have a point there, but it was all focused on a grassroots movement. While the campaign used technology well to attract a lot of tech-savvy people, the implementation didn’t cover much ground beyond the internet. It’s a proof of concept that having a massive grassroots movement isn’t enough to win an election.


  12. Naota10 says:

    “Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history…”

    What about Ron Paul?

  13. DeepThorn says:

    It may, but politicians are normally too stupid to figure it out.  It would be the CIA, Secret Service, FBI, varies known and secret branches of the armed forces, and so on that would use it.  I can barely imagine McCain using a non-rotary telephone myself.  What do you expect these guys to do with the internet?

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  14. JB says:
    You mean all that neat technology we see in shows like 24 and other Hollywood movies doesn’t really exist.
    *gasps* But TV never lies… I feel so disillusioned.


  15. Zero Beat says:

    Yeah, the Xbox may not be as powerful as the 360, but it’s still pretty damn powerful.  Gamecube, too.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  16. Zevorick says:

    Welcome to the world of overprotection and paranoia. Get used to it.

    Granted, if there is one person in the US that they need to be overprotective of it is the first African American President, but when it interferes with the work you need to do it’s time to change some things.

    Also, I thought the xbox to atari analogy was perfectly acceptable as is. No need to be nitpicky because they didn’t pick the newest version when the analogy still works.

  17. Weatherlight says:

    Finished reading the article, to anyone who says it was sabotage should read the full article, from page two:

    ""It is what it is," said a White House staff member, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Nobody is being a blockade right now. It’s just the system we need to go through."

    The system has daunted past White House employees. David Almacy, who became President George W. Bush‘s Internet director in 2005, recalled having a week-long delay between his arrival at the White House and getting set up with a computer and a BlackBerry."

    Honestly, it sounds to me like any whining about the mater is unwarrented. Just standard operating procedure.

    Now Clinton when he left was a different story:



  18. SimonBob says:

    Actually, I think the reference stands if it’s directed to the original: they went from an "XBOX  SI HUEG" campaign to a relatively more compact setup.

    Anyway, I hope Obama’s okay with the difficulty switch being racheted up.  Look out for those duck-shaped dragons!

    The Mammon Industry

  19. Weatherlight says:

    Disconnected phone lines, most likely referring that they were not plugged in, not that they were actually disconnected.

    I dont think it had anything to do with Bush making it difficult for Obama to take office. Its simple paranoia. It was common practice for people to disconnect the phone/Ethernet cable when not in use.

    If in fact they were disconnected at the switch it was likely because it takes a day or two for security reasons for the phones to be setup.


  20. hellfire7885 says:

    disconnected phone lines?


    Why do I get the feeling Bush wanted to make it as difficult as he could for Obama?


    Anyway, it does give great insight into all this technophobia government officials seem to dislay.

  21. catboy_j says:

    I think Xbox get used synonymously with xbox 360 now sometimes as does 360. I’ve heard it used that way a few times, and it kinda reminds me how I just started calling Playstation 2 ps2 or playstation every time I mentioned it. Yes It’s lazy, I know…

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