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September 7th, 2011
07:53 PM ET

Letters to the President: #961 'Keep it real on the jobs plan'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is no doubt refining his speech on jobs...I’m buying chips and salsa to eat during the Saints game. So we’re both preparing for tomorrow night.

Dear Mr. President,

Well, the rain was just pounding down in DC today. I don’t know how much your job involves going outside, what with the whole “I live where I work” routine, but for the rest of us who commute, it is just a mess.

It was raining so hard when I left the house this morning that there was no point in even pretending you could dash into a store without being soaked. Even with an umbrella, my wife and I got pretty wet going into a breakfast place. Thank goodness I’m a little stronger so I was able to push her out from under it and find a little more dry space for myself. Ha! Just kidding. (On a related note, what on earth is happening with all these tropical storms? Seems like every time a weather person comes on TV he or she is telling me about some new nemesis swirling out of ocean. Maybe the Greeks were onto something with their ideas about vindictive gods.)

So how are you feeling about the big jobs speech? I keep reading items that are leaking out about your plan, and I have to admit that nothing has exactly excited me yet. Sounds a lot like things we’ve heard before. But I don’t want to judge harshly. I know that the difference between what you expect someone to say and what he or she will actually say can be pretty vast. My attempts to get dates years ago proved that.

That said, here is some advice: This is a speech, I think, in which you must focus on content. You are great at turning magnificent, inspiring phrases, but on this particular issue…jobs…at this point, that may not be helpful. Your true believers don’t need to hear soaring phrases and promises, because they’ll follow you through fire anyway. Your true opponents don’t need to hear it because they won’t be with you no matter what you say. But the people who can be won over by an ambitious plan, I think, will only join the effort if they hear in straight forward, plain talk, a strategy that sounds like it will work. It is really that simple.

People don’t need to be inspired at this point. They need work. And I suspect whoever gives them the best hope for a better jobs environment over the next year will be taking the oath to be President in 2013.

Good luck. Give a call if you want to chat. I’m sort of pinned down by the rain anyway.

Regards,

Tom

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