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June 27th, 2009
10:38 AM ET

Dear President Obama #159: Now that's impressive

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama seems pretty busy, no matter what day of the week; so in keeping with that spirit, my letters to the White House continue every day no matter what the calendar says.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

The passing of Michael Jackson has me mentally running through all the famous people I’ve met, covered, and/or filed obituaries on. I won’t list them here, because I suspect in the past few months your list has easily blown mine out of the water. Not before that time, mind you, but after…sure…I’ll give you that.

I assume you know this, but just in case you don’t, news organizations routinely have elaborate collections of pre-produced obituaries, written, edited, and shelved just in case someone noteworthy dies all of a sudden. It’s a little creepy if you think of it, and having worked on a few, it is kind of maudlin work. I don’t know if we had one ready for Jackson. He was such a big name we probably should have, but then again he was so young, it’s possible we did not.

Anyway, when I think about these big celebrities (and most of the big politicians too, I may add) I almost always see them falling into one of two categories: Those who are impressive, and those who are impressed with themselves. The people with the most genuine talent, intelligence, and confidence, (no matter how big or small their titles) I have usually found, are also fairly easy to get along with. They don’t need to show everyone in the room that they are smart, rich, or influential. They are quick to admit their faults and slow to blame others. And they’ll take at least as much interest in you as you do in them.

It’s the marginal, “I’m kind of a big deal” types, who can often prove impossible. Heck, that’s even true at work. They run around so afraid that someone won’t notice them, or treat them with enough deference, that they often come off as first class jerks. Scratch that. Second class. Maybe even third. Or no class at all.

That said, one of the things that I think you really have going for you, is the easygoing way that you can chat with regular Americans. You seem pretty darn comfortable talking over issues, shooting a few hoops, or sharing a cup of soup. I know you’ve had some of the Republican types barking that you are an elitist, but if you are you’re doing a good job coming off as a regular fellow most of the time. I can’t utterly say for sure, but all of it suggests you are more likely in the first group I mentioned above, than the second. And that’s a good thing. It makes friends more loyal, opponents less strident, and gives you a better chance of benefitting from the ideas of others…which we can all use, no matter how big we get.

Congratulations, btw, on your climate bill late Friday. Call if you can!

Regards,

Tom

Find more of the Foreman Letters, here.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Lucky

    Michael we love you and we will never forget you. You truly are the "Geatest Entertainer" that has ever walked the face of this Earth.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  2. Lucky

    The word "King" best describes Michael Jackson. he was our modern-day true bright and shining King. His music and charity work helped the world overcome racial and cultural barriers and set the bar high for future artists to come. His lists of hit songs goes on and on. His videos told enduring stories and were like mini movies some being 15-20 minutes in length. His legacy and impact on music, culture, history, and the world will live on forever. Michael gave his all and more in every performance and in every video. He made me want to be a better person and make a positive contribution to the world. Michael was such a gentle kind and loving person. May God Bless You Michael!!!!

    June 29, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  3. Julie

    I seem to run into celebrities all the time.

    I can always tell which ones are going to live a happy stable life versus which ones are going to do an "Anna Nicole". It's pretty simple. The ones who have no problem interacting with normal, everyday people will be able to handle it when the money and fame leave (because sooner or later, they always do).

    The ones who go around with a posse, bodyguards, and an attitude of "I'm better than everybody else" are going to suffer when the world starts ignoring them.

    Michael Jackson did one thing very well. But so does a brain surgeon. We live in a strange culture indeed where we confer adulation upon people whose only skill is to entertain.

    June 28, 2009 at 9:44 pm |
  4. Bobby

    How your company can continue with the coverage of a Child Molester is beyond me?
    Only in america!

    June 28, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  5. Alexis

    i will always miss you now and forever and you will always be in my heart and always rememer your greatest momemnts
    WE ALL LOVE YOU RIP alexis

    June 28, 2009 at 1:27 am |
  6. Alexis

    you will live in my heart forever and forever will be a living legand i will never stop listening to your music i will miss you always and remember your greatest moments Alexis RIP

    June 28, 2009 at 1:20 am |
  7. bunny rene

    Mr. Foreman,

    I am just curious to know a little bit more about you.
    Yes, indeedy.....it is a little creepy to know (if this in fact
    true) that one's obituary is sitting in a file cabinet in some
    newsroom just waiting for a proper date to publish.

    Do you write them for everyone or just people who are important?
    What does mine say about me? Better sooner than later!
    Thanks,
    Bunny

    June 28, 2009 at 12:57 am |
  8. Cassie S. Ball, Chattanooga, Tn

    Do anybody know if Michael Jackson was an organ donor?

    June 27, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  9. Ana

    To those that may say, who cares about the death of another celebrity? Well let me put it this way....! MJ has been an inspiration to other entertainers and we should honor & thank him for that. As a child I remember that the artist that marked the chapters of my life as a bookmark was Micheal Jackson's music. One doesn't have to know someone face to face, to know that MJ really influenced our lives. Before there was Oprah and Obama, there was MJ known and loved throughout the world. This moment in time is bigger than Obama being the first black US president. I only hope that he is finally resting in the Arms of God. He was and is, the greatest musician Icon and Legend of our time. This is why most of us are sadden and honoring his life. My prayers go out to his family and children.

    Ana, in FL

    June 27, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  10. Craig

    Lets see, did someone else die recently? I think it was a famous actress but i'm not sure,mmmmmmmmmmm

    June 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  11. the wonderer

    tom, my man, you really think he'd have someone read all this blabbering? hey, he's a busy man, why don't you make it shorter and to the point? just say what you want in like two sentences, can't you do that? he really doesn't have time to read how you feel and what thoughts are running thru your head. just say it:
    1.
    2.
    3.
    hey, he can be elected only for two terms, gotta a lot to do in such a short time!

    June 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  12. Mauricio Jordan

    Well said indeed,as the whole world remembers Michael Jackson as the
    undisputed King of Pop. Elvis Presley,as we all agree still reigns as the King of Rock and Roll,But, in all this news frenzy,let's not forget another icon of entertainment: Farrah Fawcett,who might arguably be remembered as the "Queen of Posters",since her untimely death, I hear reports that her posters are selling briskly. May God gran them both of these icons of the entertainment industry,and their respective grieving families the peace and serenity they deserve.

    June 27, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  13. RLWellman

    Americans you had better wake up! This climate bill is a wolf in sheeps clothing. The outside looks nice, but no one is allowed to read the inside. It's over 1600 pages long and no one is allowed to read it. DID ANY OF YOU EVER BUY A HOUSE OR A CAR AND NOT READ WHAT THE CONTRACT SAID?

    We have become a country of very stupid people. You think the Government is there to protect you. They are there to take your money and spend it as they see fit. Do you actually think they are going to help us?

    June 27, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  14. Sharyn Pearson

    Can it be put out there a fund to clear Michael Jackson's debts
    and Barrack Obama sign the cheques to his debtors so he
    can rest in peace. I know his fans would love this and we can
    trust Obama to be honest on behalf of his children and give them
    a clean slate from his life.

    Please Barrack this would be a great tribute and I know you
    would fit it in amoungst your schedule to do this for his kids.

    June 27, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  15. Isabel, Brazil

    Hi, Tom!

    I have a co-worker (he's a systems analyst and journalist) and when I commented the my surprise on the speed that the AC360 has to make a special Michael Jackson of 2 hours, he told me that news organizations routinely have elaborate collections of pre-obituaries produced and I doubted.

    Will Smith (my co-worker) was right!

    It is amazing the emotion in the world on the death of Michael Jackson

    June 27, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  16. neo

    Did the President personally send his condolences? If not, I don't like that. This was a global loss.

    June 27, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  17. twitter.com/kathleen310

    Michael Jackson always expressed his vulnerability quite humbly. Though mostly private, he was never confined emotionally while speaking publicly. Heart on sleeve. xoxo

    June 27, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  18. Rhonda Brown

    Michael Jackson's passing has affected my entire family, we feel like we lost a best friend. We grew up with him, he's been in my generation ever since I can remember, but our hearts will go on. Our condolences to the Jackson family,our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Joe, Rhonda,Joshua,Christopher
    Richmond, Va.

    June 27, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  19. Rhonda Brown

    I love Anderson Cooper's coverage of the news, I feel as though he is always thorough and fair with his questioning , as well as his points of view. I started watching cnn during the political debates, and I must say the whole team of reporters as well as newscasters are awesome ! You guys almost had me considering changing my career at one point, but I will leave that to the experts ! Keep up the good work guys !

    June 27, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  20. thomas mercurio

    Message well said. Mr. President Your going to be one of the best Presidents ever. Tommy

    June 27, 2009 at 8:57 am |