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Shutdown Takes Its Toll on White House Operations

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on the White House, where about 3 out of 4 staffers are being kept off-duty.

Aides on furlough are barred even from checking the BlackBerrys they usually clutch like worry beads.

Of the 1,701 advisers, assistants, number-crunchers, butlers, chefs and landscapers at the White House normally, fewer than 450 are working. That’s because the rest fall under the unfortunate category of “non-essential.”

President Barack Obama’s aides have strived to maintain a sense of normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal government’s nerve center with a skeletal staff have created a sense of mild disarray.

Even the White House switchboard has been set to roll over to a prerecorded message. The message says to call back when the government reopens.

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