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March 20th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #425: "Home at last"

Reporter's Note: President Obama has been traveling the country a bit lately to talk up health care. I’ve been traveling some too. My planes are not as fancy as his, but I think my bus is better! Still, as I note in today’s letter to the White House, it’s nice to get home.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

These road trips are wearing me out. I really love escaping the gravity of DC and visiting other states, and that’s a good thing considering I’ve been doing that for decades. But the pace on the road for these Building Up America trips is relentless. Up every morning around 6:15 and not in bed until around midnight, with pretty much a steady push the entire time in between.

Not complaining. I know a lot of folks would be happy to have a job right now. I’m just saying that by week’s end I’m feeling a little draggy, especially since we start each of these weeks on Sunday. Which is a long, drawn out way of saying I’m glad it is Saturday (or at least it will be by the time you read this.)

Do you ever get any time when you are out traveling to actually, factually look around? I think I asked you this, maybe just a few weeks ago, but I’m too frazzled to recall. In any event, you can learn a lot by roaming the streets unnoticed.

Like I did this week in downtown Montgomery. I had a rare ten minutes of nothing to do while I waited on some technical matter, so I walked out of the CNN Express and up Dexter Avenue toward the landmark, Chris’ Hot Dogs, which has been serving up dogs since World War One. No kidding.

The dogs were smothered in chili and onions and great as usual, but what I saw along the way was less than appealing. Storefronts boarded up, the glass smashed in, and sprayed with graffiti. It was really sad.

Dexter Avenue has struggled for a long time, but it was never this bad when I worked here years ago. It’s depressing and unnecessary. Downtown is crawling with state workers, my sister among them, and she has told me that many of them would love to have more nice places to go grab lunch, or do some quick shopping, or maybe share a cup of coffee after work.

And with just a few ambitious investors they could have it. There is, after all, a really terrific effort underway to restore the riverfront area just a few blocks away.

It made me think about how hesitant everyone is right now to do much of anything. Confidence is a funny thing. When you have it, it seems like the most natural thing in the world to carry around in your pocket. And when you don’t, it seems like you can’t find it anywhere.

Anyway, if you get a chance during some of your journeys to slap on a disguise like President Carter used to do and just wander the streets a bit, perhaps you can help us locate our national confidence again. I know some folks along Dexter Avenue would appreciate it.

I’m going to nap this afternoon if I can find ten minutes, so let’s not talk until at least Monday, ok?

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

March 20th, 2010
12:50 AM ET

Video: Sean Penn's fight to save Haiti from massive flooding

AC360°

Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn spent three weeks in Haiti following the January earthquake, living in a tent and witnessing first-hand the devastation. He is back in Haiti, and spoke with Anderson about his campaign to stop a potential public health disaster.

Learn more about the J/P Haitian Relief Organization


Filed under: Haiti • Haiti Earthquake • Sean Penn