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December 7th, 2011
07:46 PM ET

Letters to the President #1052: 'A bowl of M and M's'

Reporter's Note: I write to the president every day. He never answers.

Dear Mr. President,

Well, I took another day off in the middle of the week, ostensibly to continue celebrating my birthday, but also to attempt to shake this cold which has me sniffling like a kindergartener with a scraped knee. I ended up running errands all day in a steady December rain, so I'm guessing I did not do much to help myself on that front. But then, knowing what is best and doing what is best have often been at odds in my life, as they are for most of us, I suppose.

Right now I am sitting in the kitchen with the dog roaming around, my younger daughter watching a recorded episode of "Glee," and my wife puttering with an acorn squash which will go nicely with the small steaks I will be grilling in the rain shortly. Infirmity or not, I have rarely found any reason to retreat from backyard grilling whatever the season or weather.

I am also snacking on a bowl of Christmas M&M's which I placed within dangerously easy reach. I should move them....but...not yet.

See? There is that problem again. I know what course I should pursue, but my more immediate desires trump wisdom and so I may be making a mistake, and I think most people are this way. Sometimes we make mistakes because we really don't know any better, but more often I think we see the folly of our ways even before we begin, we just can't overcome the temptation. We want what we want and we will often go after it even if we realize it may be wrong or at least ill-advised.

This is an idea that I try to remind myself of from time to time, and one that I happily mention to you as the presidential race heats up, because politicians too have a bad tendency...despite all their advisors and polls and focus groups...to make rash decisions at times. Sometimes it is driven by pride. Sometimes by anger. Sometimes by sheer stubbornness. Whatever the cause, I would suggest that you, and indeed any candidate, should keep in mind this simple notion: When you feel like acting rashly, pause a moment, and ask yourself why. If the fundamental answer is "because I want to" that is really not an answer at all.

Now, I need to wrap up. There is a bowl of M&M's which must be moved to the other side of the room immediately.

Call if you have a moment. If I don't feel better, I may be home tomorrow too.

Regards,
Tom

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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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