February 4th, 2009
09:21 AM ET

Dear President Obama #16: Been playing brick breaker?

Reporter's Note: President Obama has asked Americans for ideas to help the country. So far, all I’ve come up with is Grilled Cheese Fridays. Still, I’m writing a letter a day to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Once as a kid, I was playing basketball at the town gym, where I lived in the flat part of Illinois. Yes, Illinois is pretty much all flat, but I lived in the middle, where even the earth doesn’t curve. Anyway, a friend named Tim scrambled after a ball going out of bounds, tripped, and t-boned the brick wall with his head. He hopped up, and through watery eyes insisted he was just fine. Then he staggered down the court like Amy Winehouse on a bender, shouted that he had to get home, and went reeling out the door. We heard the next day that Tim had a concussion, and only the vaguest idea of what had happened.

Washington can have the same effect. My guess is that you’re feeling it about now. You’ve taken a couple of whacks over your Cabinet picks. You’ve been hip-checked on the economic stimulus package. And your approval rating, which was stratospheric a month ago, is down to a more human level of about 64 percent. Not a bad time to pop a couple of aspirin, and splash your face with cold water.

But with respect, let me say: Shake it off. You remain, hands down, the most admired politician in the nation by far. Congress? Forget it. America still mistrusts the Republicans, and only tolerates the Democrats because, well, they’re not Republicans. True, leaders in both parties have loyal followers; so their ideas and influence should be taken seriously. But in terms of power politics, you are the big gun. The party bosses have more to fear from you, than you do from them.

Bill Clinton got a lot of mileage out of his public support. So did Ronald Reagan. When Congress gave them trouble, both called in the troops (meaning, us, the citizens of the country) to scare the heck out of them.

So hang tough. Selling bipartisanship, change, and hope in DC; is like selling fur coats on the equator. Closing the deal may require taking a lot more hard hits, and playing on.

Hey, I’ve been running again lately! My Achilles is tighter than a banjo string. Give me a ring if you have any suggestions on what to do about that.



For more of the Foreman letters, click here.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Dennis Milfs

    Here people are talking about grilled cheese Friday. Obviously Pres
    Obama does not understand ordinary people since he is having $100 steaks on our nickel. He and the congress needs to get out of DC and see how real people have to make due.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    As the economy gets worse the President's ratings will get worse – it's not fair but it is what happens. I hope the stimulus plan will work and his ratings will go up again. Its too early to give up on him – he's been in office 2 weeks – he's done a lot more than most Presidents in their first two weeks but no one should expect that Obama can turn the economy around in 2 weeks – maybe not even in 2 years.

    February 4, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  3. Dewayne White

    Dear President Obama,
    I just wanted for you to know that you are doing what most presidents did not do, and I must thank you for doing such an wonderful job with this economy, but, Jesus said," I am the way, follow me."

    February 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  4. EJ (USA)

    Tom, will you help me find meaning in my life?

    February 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  5. Charles - Tampa, FL

    Pres. Obama has to understand Republicans and Democrats have more similarities than differences. He will need the support from the people at all times if he truly plans to make a difference. Which way the pendulum of power sways has never truly elevated the social status or economic status of the citizens. Two forces have elevated the society- the people and the executive branch acknowledging the people's demands.

    Pres. Obama needs to keep focused on the people and the parties will concede as the silent revolution from this economic downfall continues.

    February 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  6. RON

    If you see the president in your travels today, please tell him that he is losing public support almost as fast at the idiot he replaced. He needs to sit down and compromise with the Republicans immediately or else everything he has done will be in vain. Thanks

    February 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  7. Suzy - Edmonton, AB

    I'm really enjoying reading these letters. And I'm totally with you on Grilled Cheese Fridays!

    February 4, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  8. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Obama can be modest and take some credit--but this is only round one of the boxing match--there is more to come.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:03 am |