Clinton's naps reawaken events Reagan put to bed

ROGER SIMON

August 27, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

It is nice to know that amid all the partying, all the golf, and all the yachting during his Martha's Vineyard vacation, President Clinton has still made time for one of his regular White House duties:

Naps.

It has been reported that Clinton "hits the wall about 3 p.m." and likes to take a 30-minute nap.

But I always thought this applied only to work days.

I, too, would love to take a nap at work, but every time I have tried, I have rolled off my desk.

Clinton has the advantage, however, of working at home. So he can just put down his papers and pop upstairs and catch some z's for half an hour.

I figured, however, that when he went on vacation, he would skip the naps since he was skipping the work.

But according to White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers on Clinton's first day of vacation he "slept in, went for a walk . . . [and] spent most of the morning reading the newspaper out on the porch."

And then, in the early afternoon, he took a nap.

But what was he taking a nap from?

And was it the sleeping in, the walk or the reading the newspaper that exhausted him?

"The president is vegging out," Myers explained. "I think he's trying to give his brain a rest."

And that I can sympathize with.

Clinton has spent his vacation having dinner parties, cocktail parties, golfing parties, horseback riding parties and yachting parties.

And who wouldn't need a rest after that?

(You think it was easy for Clinton to make small talk with with Jackie O? What was he supposed to say? "I really admired your husband. The first one, I mean.")

Besides, the president just turned 47, and his Baby Boomer generation intends to re-write the rules to suit itself.

And the first new rule is: Napping is good. At work and at play you are never too busy to take a nap.

There has been a spate of newspaper articles recently on the joys of napping.

The New York Times ran an article Aug. 8 that claimed that napping "15 minutes to two hours in the early afternoon can reduce stress, improve alertness and perhaps even prevent heart disease."

The article did not say whether napping also gives you fresher breath and cleaner teeth, but I suspect it does.

The article pointed out that Winston Churchill slept every afternoon during World War II, Napoleon slept on the battlefield, and Alfred Hitchcock slept at parties.

Thomas Edison napped, and Leonard da Vinci napped. So did Calvin Coolidge, Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy.

The supreme presidential napper however, was Ronald Reagan, who not only napped through an international crisis with Libya, but through the Iran-contra scandal, the Wedtech scandal, the HUD sandal, the defense procurement scandal, and the collapse of the savings and loan industry.

But even he is not America's champion napper.

I am bestowing that title on Rodney Tatum, 36, the lone air traffic controller on duty during the late shift at Palm Beach International Airport on April 29.

At around 1 a.m. Tatum felt a little drowsy and took a little nap.

Unfortunately, a Delta airliner with 42 passengers on board was coming in for a landing at this same time and no matter how loudly the Delta crew yelled into their microphones, they could not awaken Tatum.

The airliner managed to land on its own -- even avoiding the three private planes flying in the area -- but what about Tatum?

Well, police surrounded the locked control tower and flashed spotlights at the windows. And FAA officials called and called and called Tatum on the phone.

But nothing woke him up from his nap.

Finally, the police obtained the number code for the tower lock and charged upstairs to find Tatum with his shoes and socks off just awakening from what was at least a 39-minute snooze.

Tatum now faces a 20 day suspension.

Is there a lesson in this?

Yes, Mr. President, there is and . . . Mr. President? Mr. President? Mr. President!

Oh, never mind. I'll catch him when he's conscious.

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