Prisoners of the White House

The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership

By Kenneth T. Walsh
(Paradigm Publishers, Hardcover, 9781612051604, 244pp.)

Publication Date: May 2013

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President Harry Truman famously called the White House the great white jail. One can scarcely imagine an environment outside the nation s penal system that is more isolating than the Executive Mansion, a habitat almost guaranteed to keep America s commander in chief far removed from everyday life. In fact, isolation is emerging as one of the most serious dilemmas facing the American presidency. In recent years, West Wing insiders have come up with a name for this syndrome. They call it the White House bubble. Life under these conditions is a basic theme of this book, along with ways out of it, including bus tours, pollsters, and an attentive first family. As presidents have become more isolated, the role of the presidential pollster has grown. Ken Walsh has been given exclusive access to the polls and confidential memos received by presidents over the years, and has interviewed presidential pollsters directly to gain their unique perspective. The bubble is real, intense, hard to pierce, and hard to find your way out of, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in one of several interviews for this book. Ken Walsh gets inside the bubble and punctures the mythology surrounding the presidency. "

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