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January 16th, 2012
07:55 PM ET

Letters to the President #1092: 'The war of attrition'

Reporter's Note: Every single day I write a letter to the president. My mother is jealous, but I told her, “Maybe you should have thought of that when you decided not to run, Mom.”

Dear Mr. President,

So my Saints have washed and folded their jerseys, hung up their helmets, and booked some tee times after being edged out of the playoffs by the 49ers. It was a great game. Wish it had ended differently, but a great game nonetheless. And now the surviving teams battling on toward the Super Bowl.

The whole big drama came to mind when I saw Jon Huntsman suspend his campaign for the presidency today, and give his endorsement to Mitt Romney. It occurs to me that politics is one of the few places where the losers have to so openly, and immediately embrace their foes.

Sure, sports guys do it, but that’s a different matter; it is, after all, just a game no matter how much money is involved. And I guess you can say that when some person in business gets passed over for a new job, he or she is expected to be cooperative with the person who scored the position; but that’s different than having to stand up in front of the whole office and say, “Now, I’m entirely behind the guy who whipped me.”

And yet, I think it is a good idea. My younger daughter has been telling me about something in British government that I don’t entirely understand, but in a nutshell: Before something is law there, when it is still being debated, any lawmaker can say anything he or she wants to about it. But once it is passed, they all own it, and all must not only support its implementation, but shut their traps about all that they didn’t like in the first place. They must, as a group, own the legislation.

I like dissent. I like it when people can freely speak up about politics and politicians they oppose. But I also like people being gracious in defeat and accepting the rules…even if they are only rules of decorum. It is, to me, like respect for democracy itself.

I don’t know about you, but I have a terribly busy week ahead. Maybe it’s just as well that I’m not caught up in the playoffs anymore. Ha!

Regards,
Tom

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