President Obama has been very strategic about his ability to get his message outside of the Beltway.
The Beltway is the motorway surrounding the District of Columbia, and it has become both a real and symbolic circle. People doing living and doing business in DC become consumed by the insider’s view of politics, politics and government operations from being so close to the core.
Many political initiatives are driven by the inside the Beltway mentality.
Frequently, the relativity of those thoughts, ideas and rumors often don’t stand the test and become successful once they try to move outside of the Beltway.
US Presidents have frequently jumped on Air Force One to head out into the country at different times to get out of the tightening grasp of the inside the Beltway mentality. Sometimes President’s seek comfort getting out of the Beltway when they are under fire and seek the safety of core constituencies and to be seen on TV with supporters.
President Obama has been using his trips outside of the Beltway to bring messages about his legislative and economic agendas outside of the Beltway media and away from the negative vortex of Congressional members opposed to his initiatives. The President has been doing interviews with local and regional media outlets on his trip, has been hosting town hall style forums with voters and has been seen on national TV, heard on radio and is photographed around the excitement and spectrum of a popular US President arriving in Cities across America.
The usual inside the Beltway cynicism of the President or anyone in politics delivering the message President Obama has been carrying – one of optimism, caution and acknowledging the tough economic times America faces – is replaced by people across the country looking desperately for an acknowledgement that Washington DC knows what is happening out here AND there is reason to believe this country will find a way out of these deep troubles. A message that is resonating as President Obama carries it out beyond the beltway noose of the Beltway.
The past two days found the President in Southern California. President Obama hosted his first West Coast town hall in Costa Mesa in Orange County. For California political followers, Orange County is essentially the headquarters for all things GOP in California. While it is a County with the reputation for huge wealth, synthetic bodies, an eternal sun and the heart of the state Republican party –the 2008 Presidential election saw Orange County turning out a huge new Democratic vote with newly registered immigrants and other OC residents who have never been participants in California politics.
On Thursday, the President was joined at a town hall forum on the economy with movie star and current Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Governor (who many California media outlets and political followers call “The Governator”) and President both were both gracious and most laudatory of each other. Governor Schwarzenegger was an early supporter of the President’s economic stabilization efforts and the state is being rewarded with a substantial amount of economic stimulus money.
Also Thursday, the President made an appearance on the nationally broadcast “Tonight Show,” hosted by comedian Jay Leno on NBC. Many Presidential candidates, including then candidate Obama have been on the show, and several former Presidents have also been on the program. President Obama was the first sitting President to make an appearance on this hugely popular national program.
The President had some funny lines, but his appearance was mostly to deliver the message he is carrying outside the Beltway. The President was very serious in his discussion with host Leno in discussing the President’s economic stimulus efforts and why he feels optimistic about the economy while recognizing the depth of pain throughout the country. The President was right on message and delivered it way outside the Beltway.