Reporter's Note: The day before Super Bowl Sunday is traditionally known as “Free Kick Saturday” in the White House because of a long tradition of inviting citizens to attempt a field goal through makeshift uprights across the street in Lafayette Park. Not really, but it would be cool. The President has asked for advice, thus my continuing series of letters.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
So glad the weekend is finally here! You’ve had me working quite late with all these programs you’ve been launching and frankly I can use the break. Not like I’ll get one. The elder daughter has a speech contest all day Saturday; I’m going to a father-daughter dance with the younger one; throw in some work around the house (I swear those Christmas lights are coming down,) take everyone to church, and Bob’s-your-uncle, it’s Monday again.
Oh well. You and I can’t complain. We both have good jobs, and so many other folks don’t these days. U.S. companies announced more than one-hundred-thousand job cuts this week. I’m no economist, but that seems like a lot, and on top of all the jobs we’ve already lost, it’s the kind of thing that casts a chill over even the most confident household.
Fear is a terrible thing. It leads people into rash decisions, unnecessary conflicts, and the kind of panic that can ruin lives. Just watch any of those old slasher films: Every time someone gets scared and ought to call the police, instead they go traipsing through the campground in their nightclothes saying, “Sarah? Sarah? Is that you?” Next thing you know, Johnny-Knuckle-Head-With-An-Axe is running them down and the whole theater is screaming.
My point is: As President, you are the one who has to convince us not to panic and do something foolish, even if you privately are afraid of what might be coming. I know you’ve been in what seems like an endless cycle of meetings about this economy, and I’m sure you’ve heard some hair-raising predictions. But I’m also sure you’ve heard some hopeful ones. If history is any teacher, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
FDR famously talked about fear, and he had it largely right. I say largely, because sometimes “fear itself” is not the only thing we have to fear; old Mr. Chambers behind the wheel of his ’72 Vega merging onto the Beltway, for example; that’s something to fear. Or another Rosie O’Donnell special.
Still, you’ve got to be the guy who at least keeps our fears at bay; convinces us that, even when you make mistakes, you have our best interest at heart and some idea of where the maniac with the chainsaw is hiding. In the midst of so many people losing their paychecks, that’s your job.
Call when you have some time.
For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.
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