Ken Walsh spoke at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan on what President Harry Truman famously called the White House…the great white jail. Walsh is author of "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership" which focuses on the ever emerging dilemma that removes The President from everyday life and surrounds The President in "the White House bubble".
Walsh is the White House Correspondent for US News and World Report and has served in this capacity for over 25 years, making him one of the longest serving White House Correspondents in history. He is also the author of six books, a frequent contributor on radio and TV, a former president of the White House Correspondents Association
Walsh is a three-time Recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency in 1992, 1997 and 2008.
Prisoners of the White House dives into ever growing challenges Presidents face in connecting with everyday Americans and staying in touch with reality. using examples from throughout the "modern Presidents", Walsh describes the very nature of the office and how the President is looked upon by America, and how both changes the way the President lives throughout his time in the White House.
The White House bubble is real. During campaigns, Presidential candidates are fully connected with people. While being President has its positives, including participating in historic moments, traveling aboard Air Force One, legislatives victories that impact the country and representing our nation as one of only 43 individuals who have served as President.
With the bubble, also comes with it a list a negatives that impact the way Presidents impact with everyday people. Security issues are a daily issue, with possible assassination attempts a daily concern, and security coordination that increases throughout their time in office, never decreasing. Decision making also weighs heavily and exclusively on the shoulders of the President, isolating them by the anguishing nature of the choices they solely are responsibility for that impact the country and the world.
Private time with spouses and family is also very rare for Presidents. With security, staff, advisors, military personnel…the President has few moments throughout the day when not surrounded, even when they are attempting to spend family time. The bubble challenges the way Presidents visualize if policies are impacting Americans. With the honorable way people treat Presidents, fact-finding missions throughout the country do not always allow Presidents to see first-hand the ordinary way Americans are treated and living, making it difficult to see if the Presidential decisions are truly helping the country.