Obama’s 2011 Resolution: Escape the Presidential Bubble

Senior White House adviser Valarie Jarrett was on NBC’s Meet The Press today where she offered up an interesting New Year’s resolution for President Obama and the White House. Jarrett said they are going to get the president out more to listen and engage with the American people, “It’s really what gives him his energy and his strength, and so we’re determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects that priority.”

Here is the video from NBC News:

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On November 3, Obama lamented being stuck in the presidential bubble, “When you’re in this place, it is hard not to seem removed, and one of the challenges that we’ve got to think about is, is, is how do I meet my responsibilities here in the White House, which require a lot of–lot of hours and a lot of work, you know, but still, you know, have that opportunity to engage with the American people on a, on a day-to-day basis and know–give, give them confidence that I’m listening to them.”

Host David Gregory asked Senior White House adviser, Valarie Jarrett about doing a better job connecting with the American people and she answered, “Well, he often says that this is his biggest regret, is that when he took office, because of the crisis that was presented to him, he had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington focusing very hard on solving that crisis, and what he missed sorely was the engagement with the American people. He said it right before he left for vacation. He said, “When I get back, I really want to figure out a way where I can spend more time outside of Washington listening and learning and engaging with the American people.” It’s really what gives him his energy and his strength, and so we’re determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects that priority.”

All presidents get trapped in the presidential bubble, and they all hate it. In 2008 presidential historian Richard Norton Smith discussed with ABC News how lonely the job of the president can be. Smith said, “There are a number of factors that contribute to the loneliness [of being president]. Ultimately, it’s the sense of responsibility. The crushing sense of personal responsibility — think of what this president is up against: a couple of wars and a spiraling economy — there’s no escape, and that’s lonely.”

In 1947 then President Harry Truman said, “The White House is the finest prison in the world,” and that was before the Kennedy assassination lead to even more isolation for all future occupants of the White House. There is also a political consideration to getting Obama out of the bubble often in 2011. As we all know, President Obama will be running for a second term in 2012. It has become standard operating procedure for every challenger of an incumbent president to label the sitting president as out of touch with America. By getting the President out of the White House more, his administration is launching a preemptive strike against this criticism.

Whether it because of Obama’s personal preference or political concerns, only positives can come from getting the President out of the bubble, it is a good resolution for this White House to set for 2011. If President Obama is able to get out more, it will also be a sign that the troubled times of the last two years may finally be on their way towards being behind us. Having a president that is more in touch with the American people is a win for the president and the people. This is one resolution that I hope will make it through the New Year.

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