Reporter's Note: President Obama gave his State of the Union address last night, and every pundit in the civilized world is giving his or her assessment today. Me? I’m just writing my daily letter to the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Nice job on the speech last night: inspiring phrases, soaring rhetoric, snappy applause lines, good beat…easy to dance to…“Dick, I’ll give it an eight!” Seriously, it was a good piece of work. Now whether it was enough…I can’t really say.
Millions of your fans were no doubt reminded of how you were on the campaign trail and how much that gave them hope for a new future. The biggest problem, however, is what all the semi-fans, independents, and moderates think. Because their support is what will likely sink or save your agenda. Did you really convince them that you are like Fast Eddie Felson? “I’m back!”
I read a good story earlier this week about Apple. Essentially it argued that part of Apple’s great success is that it does not spend a bunch of time prattling on about what it is going to do. To the contrary, it keeps its head down, says precious little about its plans, and then rolls out some awesomely cool product like the iPhone and lets everyone start drooling. If the product turns out to be a bust, (ahem…Newton!) experience has clearly taught them that the damage will be less if they haven’t spent too much time raising expectations. And if the product turns out to be wonderful, everyone is excited by the excellent surprise.
In politics, of course, you need the help of others, so you can’t exactly hide your light under a bushel. But sometimes I think if you and the Congressional crowd would quit talking so much about what you are going to do, and instead just do it, that might be better. Show us from the get go that you mean what you say and are willing to bet your political careers on it. As it is, all of you give big speeches and carry on about what great things you have in the hopper, and then we all wind up disappointed. It’s like some friend who is always talking about the great plans he has for a party, or a trip, or a night on the town, but never delivers. After a while you want to tell him, “Look pal, call me when you’re ready to go. Because frankly I’m tired of getting my hopes up for nothing.”
Again, it was a terrific speech. I think you had things in there for everyone, including your Republican buddies. But the real test, I suspect is going to be over the next six months when somehow you have to start delivering. Otherwise you run the risk of too many folks going around saying, “That guy? Well, he talks a good game…”
I’m working in Atlanta for the rest of the week so if you want to call make sure you use my cell.
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