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But Clinton is under pressure from top aides to discipline himself even further as he tackles his formidable 1994 agenda. His greatest strengths as President -- a desire to address long-ignored problems, an energy level not seen in the Oval Office for years, and an appetite for people, policies and ideas of all kinds -- often make it hard for him to organize his time and sort out his priorities. If he can't keep them straight, the thinking goes, how can the public? A member of Clinton's Cabinet put it this way: "The big challenge for him is to try to stay away from the things he doesn't need to think about. Even though he may have known a lot, and cared a lot, about something as Governor, he doesn't need to now." The No. 2 official at another agency was more pointed: "The President has a very long list of goals. Instead of having three big goals and taking lots of time to fight for them over many months, he has more. Managing such a long list of goals is his big challenge."
Clinton is a complex, highly intense man who does almost everything at full throttle. He watches several movies each week -- the White House refuses to release an exact number -- and reads five or six books at once. He relaxes not by watching a basketball game on TV, or reading, or picking up the telephone, or doing crossword puzzles, but doing all four simultaneously, while worrying an unlit cigar. Clinton fights his schedulers for free time every weekend, but then gets jumpy by midday Sunday and is often working in some fashion by Sunday night. Last August, as he was preparing to leave Washington for his longest vacation in four years, he suddenly got cold feet. Consultant Paul Begala started throwing fastballs. "Mr. President, if you don't go on vacation, the American people are going to think you're weird." Replied Clinton: "I am weird."
But after several attempts at rehabilitation, White House officials realize it isn't easy, or perhaps even wise, to try to change the habits of this driven and eccentrically methodical 47-year-old man. If Clinton's work habits are unorthodox, they are also increasingly successful. "He's inventing a new form of chaos theory that works for him," said an Administration veteran. "People are going to have to get used to the fact that this is a different White House. It may look chaotic from the outside. The people who work there may feel it is chaotic. But if it works one more time, they ought to just lock it in and not fool with it. You've got to just hope that it's only going to blow up once in a while."
It was a measure of Clinton's omnivorous personality that he spent part of last year going to meetings alone. For several months he had no single, full- time, substantive minder, someone who would be with him at all times to keep track of the things people asked him to do. So Clinton did it himself, just as he had as Governor, though the arrangement created a troublesome bottleneck. "No one sat with him on every meeting," said an adviser. "He was the only one who knew when two different people were arguing for the same money."