Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama fired a pretty loud shot across the Republicans’ bow this week over deficit reduction. Which may be a good campaign maneuver, but as I note in today’s letter, perhaps not the most productive start to negotiations on fixing these budget issues that everyone says are so pressing.
Dear Mr. President,
Getting along with people is not always easy, as most of us found out in grade school. Someone else wants your favorite crayon, or your spot on the monkey bars, or your seat at lunch; on and on it goes.
It continues into adulthood. Another commuter wants to nose into your lane; a co-worker wants to finagle you out of your little corner of cubicle land; some impatient pilot wakes you up from your nap in the control tower. You get the picture.
Still, getting along despite such friction is a critical part of success. There is only so much that most of us can do on our own no matter how powerful we are. (Unless, I mean, you’re like Oprah. Who I think can actually make laws on her own. Pretty sure.) And I hope it doesn’t disappoint you to hear that this principle applies to presidents, too.
You found yourself struggling to get things done your way even when your Democrats were in charge of everything from legislation to parking spaces. So with the Republicans now running the House and elbowing folks around in the Senate a bit, I think you might want to be thinking a bit more about playing well with others.
I understand that you have to fling some candy to your base now and then (as you did with that deficit speech this week) but if you actually want to get anything done during the next year while you run for re-election, I’m pretty sure you’re going to need at least a few Republicans on board. After all, you, quite simply, don’t have the political muscle right now to do much without them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you have to agree with them, or stroke their egos, or anything like that. I’m just saying you don’t have to start a war either. When we openly accuse someone of being unreasonable and foolish, in my experience they tend to regard us in the same way. And while such a tactic may be a good way to run for re-election, it might lead to some pretty unnecessarily rough and unproductive months in the meantime.
Speaking of unproductive, I’ve done all I’m going to do today. Packing up the papers and heading for home. If you want me to stop by later give me a call. Want to watch some of the hockey playoffs?
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