Reporter's Note: President Obama is talking jobs, and so am I in my latest letter to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
I had a completely wild idea while out running this morning. Seriously. Maybe I slipped on that trail in the woods and cracked my head, because I’ll tell you again…this is a crazy notion. And yet it has been on my mind ever since as a truly bold, ground breaking maneuver, that could change the upcoming presidential race.
Here goes: Everyone knows that the race is about jobs. Let people fuss over immigration, foreign affairs, the deficit; whatever they like. Barring some massive shift, jobs are the only real issue. You’re running around making speeches about it, the Republicans are doing the same. In all likelihood, the person who takes the oath next will be whoever convinces America that he (or she) can get more people to work. It is as simple as that.
So very publically, very boldly, you should bet on yourself. Stand up tall and say, “My fellow Americans, I know how worried you are about your jobs, so I am going to lay my own on the line. I am pledging today, that I will get the unemployment rate below 8.5 percent by next September. That will not be good enough, but it will show the kind of movement we desperately need. And I have so much faith I can do it, that I will make a promise. If I fail, I will withdraw from the race and allow another Democrat to take my place against the Republicans on the ballot in November.”
Wow! Can you imagine the impact? First, you could completely reclaim the slogan of “Change,” because trust me, that sort of bravery would be a huge change for D.C. Second, it would demonstrate that you are unequivocally dedicated to making good things happen rather than to just getting re-elected. And third, it would refocus the entire electoral debate. Americans would be transfixed by the audacity of your struggle. Every twitch of the jobs numbers, every few weeks, would make everyone talk about you…not your challengers.
The great drama would not be “Can anyone beat the president?” but instead “Can the president pull this off?” And if you made it to 8.5? I’m willing to bet at that point your re-election would be certain. Which is strange, because if you just happen to see unemployment drop to that number over the next year…without you making such a bet… I suspect you will not get nearly as much credit.
I’m sure you have a lot of questions. If you can get Axelrod to quit screaming about how insane the whole notion is, give me call. I’ll be watching the Republican debate tonight, but we can talk afterward.
Tonight on our continuing series 'Ungodly Discipline', when religion is sometimes used as an excuse to mistreat children. Gary Tuchman reports on a school in Indiana that is facing accusations that are hard to comprehend.
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