A Brief History of Life Inside the Presidential 'Bubble'

Wanna know why Bill Clinton hates Barack Obama so much? Because our Hopey President-elect is basically rerunning the entire script of Clinton's '92 campaign, including the Obama meme-of-the-day: chafing at life inside "the bubble."

The first person we could find to describe presidential life as living inside a bubble was, of all people, Ronald Reagan's oldest son Michael, who told UPI in 1983 that he was entering a Lake Michigan speedboat race to avoid getting "stuck in the presidential bubble."

But the term didn't really take off until 1992 when "security bubble" became a campaign coverage cliche, largely pushed by Clinton partisans, as a way to delineate elite George Bush (who didn't know the price of a gallon of milk) from the effusive friend-of-the-people Clinton (who liked to drop by McDonalds during his jogs). Here's Andrew Rosenthal writing in the New York Times in March of 1992:

Moving from the hermetically sealed, high-security bubble of President Bush's entourage to Gov. Bill Clinton's campaign is a journey through the political looking glass. It is not hard to imagine the two candidates standing on opposite sides of the mirror, looking at reflections distorted by politics and circumstances but in many ways the same.

Politico uses Obama's spontaneous trip with his daughters to a water-park last Friday to claim that "Obama seems to be struggling particularly hard, particularly early" with his new bubble life. But there again, Clinton did it first.

In Clinton's very first news conference after the election, Clinton was already worrying about whether he could keep up the level of accessibility he had during his campaign. "I'm a real sort of informal person," the boy from Hope lamented to reporters, according to the A.P.. "We went out of our way to demonstrate ... that we can be genuinely accessible to the American people."

A week before Clinton was sworn in, he set down the definition of just why the bubble was so pernicious during an interview with Arkansas reporters:

Q: Given your gregarious nature, Governor, I know that others worry about your safety. Do you worry about that now, going into this job?

PRESIDENT-ELECT CLINTON: Not much, just because there's not much I can do about it. I mean, I think the Secret Service does a fine job. Goodness knows my life is more restricted now than ever before. I do think there are ways that I can keep in touch with people and accommodate their security concerns and we're looking for those. I do want to listen to them to some extent.

You can't let the security bubble shut you down. I mean, it's hard enough to stay in touch with people as it is. Not always easy as governor. It's easy as a governor to get out of touch, but it's hard in a state like Arkansas where everybody calls you by your first name and you're supposed to run the office like a country store. I mean, it's different.

But there, where most people assume they should not see the president and where it's literally impossible for the president to personally see more than a certain number of people every day, or to talk to more than a certain number of people on the phone, you could just live your whole life in that bubble.
I mean, you live in the White House, you just go to Camp David where there's nobody else and you go around in an armored car and you fly in Air Force One, and you just — you have — there has to be ways for the president to stay in touch with the pulse of America. It's not just that I enjoy it, although I do.
It is very important because I think a lot of people — I think President Bush, for example, wanted to do a good job and I think really missed the level of misery and anxiety people had on the economy for a long time just because the way the presidents spend their days.

Ultimately, of course, it wasn't a "security bubble" that swallowed Clinton's presidency, but rather a legal one after Ken Starr and his investigators closed in. And here lies the real reason that Clinton must hate Obama so much: as long as Barack keeps his dick in his pants, he has the chance to live up to the potential that Clinton squandered for a blow job from an intern.