Fall asleep in the Oval Office? You could win a ‘Scowcroft award’

There’s a special award in the history of the American presidency that you’ve probably never heard of. It’s the Scowcroft award, and according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, it honors the American official “who most ostentatiously [falls] asleep in a meeting with the president.” 

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Gates told a group of grads at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last Friday about the award, which began under President George H.W. Bush. The president, Gates said, “evaluated candidates on three criteria. First, duration — how long did they sleep? Second, the depth of the sleep. Snoring always got you extra points. And third, the quality of recovery. Did one just quietly open one’s eyes and return to the meeting, or did you jolt awake and maybe spill something hot in the process?”

The award was named for then-National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who would go on to chair President George W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and, most recently, to advise the Obama transition team on national security issues.

Gates informed the crowd that “[Scowcroft] was, as you might suspect, the first awardee, and I might add that he won many oak leaf clusters.”