by Brian Wilson for FOX Fan Central

Inside the Beltway Syndrome

How many times have you heard some political pundit refer to life and events "inside the Beltway"?  Have you ever wondered why we call Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes, "The Beltway Boys"?  It is a reference to the fact that Washington, DC is encircled by I-495, a giant highway that girds your nation's capital like a giant belt — hence the nickname "the Beltway."

Let me divert a moment to explain that the Beltway is a nightmarish interstate highway loop from hell.  When first built, you could whip around the city of Washington in very short order.  Today, it is often a rolling parking lot.  You don't really do much driving on the Beltway, but the Beltway will drive you — CRAZY!  The Department of Transportation has listed I-495 as one of the most congested roadways in America.  A driver having a very bad day on the Beltway can make the morning or evening commute a daylong test of endurance and patience.  We haven't built a major new highway in years around here. Everyone wants new roads, unless they happen to be built near them. So we suffer endlessly in congested traffic, doomed to spend large portions of our lives inching along in a hypnotic state induced by the glare of brake lights just beyond your hood.  But I digress.

When we talk about life inside the Beltway, it's a reference to the fact that people who work in or around the federal government have a different view of the world.  The priorities inside the Beltway are very different from the priorities of Main Street America.  We are in a bubble of super-heated rhetoric where the insignificant becomes front-page headlines and major battles are often waged to gain minor political advantage.  It probably has something to do with the fact that the landscape here is dominated by lawyers.

I am thinking about this a great deal because for the past week I have been on vacation.  I relish my time away from Washington; I get to interact with real, honest, hard-working people who look at the world with a clarity you can only get outside the Beltway bubble.  Vacation is time to decompress and to reassess one's outlook.  Thankfully, the folks I meet in my travels are always cheerfully willing to reeducate me.  In one week, they are able to undo the Beltway brainwashing that subtly takes over your thinking.

I return to my Sunday broadcast tanned, rested, and ready to observe life inside the Beltway from the perspective of people most directly affected the decisions made here. I will fight valiantly to remain uninfected by "IBS", the  "Inside the Beltway Syndrome." ( I note that IBS also stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Coincidence? I think not.)   

Beneath this column you will see an email address — please feel free to use it.  Though it is impossible to respond to each and every letter, I do read them all.  I value your input.  Keep me honest.

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