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November 8th, 2009
07:33 AM ET

Dear President Obama #293: Gone fishing...

Reporter's Note: President Obama went to Capitol Hill to push passage of health care reform. It’s Saturday. I went to walk the dog, then to my computer to write my daily letter to the White House.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve come to believe that your political strategy is a good bit like fishing from a speedboat. You make a great big rush and a lot of noise getting to your favorite spot, but then you just quiet down and wait for a bite. Am I onto something here? Your team came roaring into the White House in January spitting fire and promising to take on every issue in the book simultaneously. The political intelligentsia (yes, I laugh when I say that too) all beat their heads with their fists, tore at their hair shirts, and swore “It just can’t be done! You can’t take on that many explosive issues in one fell swoop, why you’ll… uh…break your desk, or get a headache, or…well, something.” I must say, it did seem impossible.

Now, however, I’m wondering if you have stumbled into an unusual and possibly effective way to wage political warfare: Get everyone stirred up; make the opposition open fire with everything they have; then sit back and wait. Wait until the public and your opponents get tired. Wait until we media types grow bored of writing about whatever the subject is (and trust me, we’ve become the kings of Short-Attention Span Land.) Wait until no one is really watching. Then roll out legislation, rush toward a vote, and hope it’s under your pen before anyone can organize a revolt.

As pure strategy, it’s not bad. First, I don’t think you can pass a “water is wet” bill without facing stiff opposition from someone these days. Second, the winds for or against change can blow with great fury, but not forever. This idea of simply waiting for an opportune moment to strike may be the wave of the future for everyone, Democratic and Republican.

Of course, keeping your supporters in line (especially Pelosi and that House crowd) for a long time is also difficult. And the longer you ramp up to a vote, the more a victory may appear diminished (“Well, the president finally got a watered down version of his bill through.”) or a loss magnified (“Months of work; crushed on the floor of Congress today.”)

So it’s a high risk game, but you knew that when you signed up, eh? Good luck with the fishing. And call me on your way back to the boat dock. Had a nice run this afternoon, btw. Go Saints!

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Marion

    Conserve' for USA I think what people fail to realize is that the majority of people want Health Care Reform. Some may get voted out , but it is not going to be as many as you think. Give me a reason to listen to you. Don't just say NO because of party lines. Tell the reason you are saying NO without hateful rhetoric and with a good idea for a solution. This hateful banter is going to turn a lot of people off. I want solutions not a bunch of arguments.

    November 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  2. Conserve' for USA

    It looks like we will be getting new members in the house next fall. They don't seem to care what the majority wants, but this will change when they get voted out. The senate will be cleaned out too if they are stupid enough to pass the bill too.

    November 8, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  3. SusanA

    Interesting posts. I agree with JudiB's analysis. Perhaps it is my advanced years, but I'm skeptical of virtually everything I hear. Having voted and switched parties a couple of times across my 40 year voting career, I've never been contacted by a pollster for my opinion about anything.

    I have received and returned annotated questionairres from both parties that insulted my intelligence on issues in order to fire me up to give money.

    What I would like to believe is happening is that people are looking past the loud and flashy to the meat that President Obama casts into the waters and then the methodical way of responding to critics. Dreamer? Probably but I'm not impressed with partisan smoke and mirrors. I'm looking for truth in an out of hand I want stuff democrarcy.

    November 8, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  4. JudiB

    Love the note, Tom! Watched the vote in the House last night, eyelids drooping, but too curious to fall asleep! Now, on to the Senate! And my hope is that it, too, will be aggressive. My bigger hope is that what does get passed has some semblance of sanity and of Obama's objectives in it and that Americans will actually benefit from it!

    This young President IS taking on so much. And I've come to feel that there are some people who are simply BRED to complain and distort.....who care nothing whatever about "solutions" of any kind. They are the proverbial back-seat drivers.....stomping and billowing about how Obama is doing everything wrong, but not willing to step up to the plate themselves to help get it right! Those are folks like the ones who say "yes, the economy IS improving....but Obama's stimulus had nothing to do with it...it would have happened anyway!". Guaranteed, those same folks would be first in line to BLAME him if the economy goes south!

    Kinda like taking credit for the accomplishments of your kids (and I DON'T do that!)....it means ya gotta take the blame for their failures, too!

    November 8, 2009 at 7:51 am |