When Barack Obama invited Stevie Wonder and 150 music lovers to the White House for a concert, it wasn’t just an excuse to hang out with a favorite musician. It was part of a carefully crafted political strategy to open up the White House, the New York Times reports. The Obamas have already hosted students, teachers, chefs, mayors, community leaders, and labor organizers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
While every president does some White House hosting, Obama’s events are specifically tailored to burnish his hip, inclusive image. The White House social secretary says they’re constantly asking, “How do we Obama-tize this event?” They’ve installed a dance floor; had Earth, Wind and Fire perform; and spotlighted normally behind-the-scenes house staff. “They get it,” said a former Reagan media consultant. “There are no boundaries in utilizing the people’s house.”