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November 3rd, 2010
10:33 AM ET

Letters to the President #653: 'Change partners...keep dancing'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s party did not enjoy a good night in the midterm election, which is an understatement. The overstatement is in my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

My wife and I went to a festival once in the small town of Chauvin, Louisiana, and under a blistering sun we joined a storm of people dancing a country two-step to thundering zydeco. Five minutes later, thrashed by elbows and knees, we stumbled from the floor sweating like stevedores. As we collapsed into folding chairs, an old Cajun twirled past, shot us a grin, and called out, “It ain’t as easy as it looks, is it cher?”

Neither is change.

You and your Democrats learned that the hard way this week. For those members of Congress who danced in to the beat of Obamania in 2008, it had to be the shortest two years of their lives; going from hello to goodbye on the same fist bump; from “Let’s measure for curtains” to “Hey Chuck, get some cardboard boxes and call Ryder about a truck, will ya? We’re headed home.”

They clearly wanted things to change, so you can’t blame them for lack of effort. But voters are interested in results, not passing out gold stars for trying. And the timeline for those results has been shrinking.

Maybe that’s a measure of how we are as people these days. We want our coffee fast, our information faster, and every new trend is last week’s news as soon as we notice it. But then, in all fairness, we’ve been sold the promise of quick change by you and your political pals on both sides of the aisle. Oh sure, once someone is elected, he or she invariably tries to retreat from the glowing promises of the trail, but by then the idea is already out there that change will be, if not immediate, at least not far down the road.

So what do you do now? Good question. I don’t have all the answers (and quite possibly I don’t have any) but I’ve always thought that revolutionary leaders have short shelf lives. Their revolutions must produce real results quickly. Those results don’t have to be earth-shattering, but they have to be something that people can grab, or their followers will put down their flags, go home for dinner, and the revolution is over.

You and your fellow Dems have tried to talk up the changes you’ve put into place, but clearly that’s not working. What Americans need are changes they can see and feel: jobs for the jobless, a restoration of home values, and a government where everyone seems to be putting the good of the nation first above the gains of their party.

It’s a tricky equation, and like my dance in Cajun-land, not as easy as it looks. But I suspect after this election, it may hold your best hope for a path forward.

I’m sure you are very tired after all you’ve been through, so don’t call today. Frankly, I’m a little whipped myself. But maybe we can get together and go for a walk later in the week. Uh, but not on the weekend; we have friends coming into town.

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Jo

    What was the total voter turn out, compared to 2008? Some one must have the answer. Thank You, Jo

    November 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  2. Yaharra

    I agree with Autumn. It took 8 years for us to get into the economic mess that we were put in by the previous administration which was republican. They rose the deficit, started the increase in unemployment and then left office and handed over a pile of mess to Obama to clean up. Americans always want immediate change but in this economic situation, immediate change is not going to happen overnight. Obama never promised immediate change. I clearly remember him saying change was going to come but it may come in 2 years or even 4 years. Obama has tons of messes to fix and is doing a remarkable job handling all of it. For you to say, his change isn't working is a complete and utter lie. I am 23 years old, a recent college graduate, and I am more than glad Obama extended the age to 26 so that graduates could be on their parents healthcare until they found a job in this recession. My grandparents feel the change. People who have children with preexisting conditions feel the change. The only people who don’t like the change is the people whose pockets its affecting. How dare you not note everything Obama has done for this country in just 2 years. Learn to give credit where credit is due. You say Americans need change they can see and feel. What is Obama suppose to do? Reach out his hand and tap every unemployed person in the United States and say "Here is a job?" then you would say he was stretching the power of government. If he does or doesn't it is always going to be wrong according to people like you. You want limited government, but you want government to stimulate jobs for millions of people. You want to cut spending, but never say where or how. Recessions don’t end in 2 years of office. Obama is not a magician. Your clearly a republican and so this letter is bias and doesn’t represent how Americans feel. Lastly, if your going to give him a timeline on changing the economy, you should give him the same timeline you gave bush for destroying it.

    November 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  3. SMH

    Seems to me that people have this assumption that one man can untangle the mess of another person in a microwave fashion. Well think of it this way it take no time to gain weight but takes a long time to lose it when doing it the right way without a fad diet. Pres. Obama needs the time its take to do it the right way.

    November 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  4. S. Tallent

    The American people have sent a message for change. GET OVER THIS. I have not lost faith in the American People, but Washington is Broken. The deals made, the lobbyist... yes we want change. However, what we really need is FULL DISCLOSURE IN LAYMAN'S TERMS. WE NEED OUR LEADERS TO REALIZE THAT MIDDLE CLASS IS NOT 250K A YEAR. Separation of church and state. Marijuana legalization will help stop the border wars and the gang problems as well as bring money, massive amounts, into the governments. IT IS TIME FOR US TO GROW UP. I don't want to be known in 1000 years as those selfish idiots who dumbed down a nation. The churches need to do their thing in their realm and Washington needs to resign. There is nothing positive that goes on there that can't be done over the internet. Send our representatives back to their states. We are not making progress because Washington doesn't want to let go of their kickbacks.

    November 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  5. Joe

    I just heard the president say that their are jobs be created. But He did not say that their were twice as many being lost. I would like for the government( Obama) to say the whole truth this time instead of partial information. I look forward to the coming term.

    November 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  6. Katrina

    Everyone wants to blame Obama but the former President goes on with his life and pulled so much capitalism in this country he nearly made the market fail. America is a confused country that does know who to trust and they blame the black president. When really it is everyones fault who believed in this system. American the brave but now the cowards, we point to find fault but instead of pointing fingers at each other why can't we help one another. If we do not work together this country will go hell which its heading that way. People can believe that they are not having the same problems as other in a different part of the country if you live in America then you are part of this system. Watching the victory with the election made me feel sad because the Republicans will continue to be selfish and not care about others but just their kind. This country was a great country that had class and everyone had the piece of the pie and it felt good. But that pie is now gone and the Americans that I have lost is the Middle Class made this country go forward. Yes the rich sat back and watched the middle class buy up what they could afford and the poor they dreamt. But we as people are cruel to let this country go to hell in hand basket for these politcal parties have an issue because of race, economic status and of course more capitalism.I am sad that the America I used to know is going and I dont believe that America will continue to have no respect for humankind. What happens to our children and who will care if we are all ready ruining each other.:(

    November 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  7. Paul Kerber

    Well, what can I say as we go around and around debating health-care. Now it will be to ROLLBACK the health-care bill, with the Republican landslide. By the way aren’t those Tea Party people the same people who showed up with weapons at the TOWN HALL MEETINGS. Didn’t the Democrats welcome the Republicans to join in, and all they did was ridicule.
    Also, the Republicans want to keep the TAX CUT for the RICH while they will cut entitlement programs for the poor with the unemployment rate over %10. You know King Louis the Sixteen refuse to tax the rich in France when the debt of the government was extremely high and they got the French revolution. What America maybe in the next few years is not a wonderful life but life depicted in the Movie ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE that depicts POTTERS-VILLE where Mr. Potter runs the town, see the movie, you see where I am getting at.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  8. Annie Kate

    If the economy recovers and jobs appear in bulk so that anyone who wants a job has a good chance of getting one, then I think that the average voter will feel more kindly towards Obama and his plans. When you are hurting for a job and how to feed the family it's hard to care about much else.

    I agree with you, Tom, on revolutionary leaders – they tend to streak across the political sky like a comet burning up in the harsh light of domestic economic reality and conservative values. With Obama, though, it seems like he came for a revolution but that not many others showed up – they were all out looking for jobs.

    November 3, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  9. Autumn

    I find that most voters, upon our President's arrival, expected unrealistic changes to take place immediately. They built him and his administration up so high that they could only be let down. Please tell me (Really!) what did you expect from this man? Did you want him to go out with every unemployed person in America and help them apply? Did you expect him to plug the oil spill himself? What about home values? How could he restore such an impossible thing? You clearly, and obviously, didn't vote for President Obama to begin with. Why are you assuming the role of a disappointed constituent? What are you really trying to prove with this letter?

    November 3, 2010 at 10:46 am |