Reporter's Note: The President wants Americans to give him idea about how he can make our country better. So every day, hands on the keyboard, I do my best to help by writing another letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Once again the Oscars have come and gone, and my name was not called. I fear my dream of Best Supporting Something will never be realized. Granted, I have nothing to do with the movie business except buying tickets and popcorn, and occasionally getting noisy teenagers tossed out of the multiplex, but Hollywood dreams have so long been part of the American experience, it’s hard to let mine go.
You, on the other hand, still have some real hope! Seriously. Look, Al Gore scored an Academy Award, and he’s not nearly as glamorous as you. What was his story? “Hi, I’m from Tennessee. Is it hot in here?” You’ve got that beaten hands down.
(FADE IN; DARK D.C. STREET. WHITE HOUSE LOOMING IN BG. SILHOUETTE OF LONE MAN WALKS TOWARD CAMERA: “He was a junior Senator from Illinois. She was the party favorite. He had no chance. Until he made one. See the film that is igniting the nation: ‘Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story.’” I know, you can feel the vibe. Or maybe I’m getting carried away.
Truth is I’ve always been wary of politicians whom people like too much. Reagan. Clinton. You. It’s not because popularity is bad, it’s just that when voters really like a president they start imagining that everything he does is good. They stop subjecting his plans to the kind of scrutiny we should turn on every leader, and they fiercely attack even a perceived critic as somehow biased, unfair, un-American. It leads to unfettered power and often bad policy. Hey, how do you think George Bush got us into Iraq?
We do the same thing in life. If you like a person, even if you see him or her doing something wrong, you’ll tend to turn a blind eye at first. Maybe for a long time. That’s how strong the cult of personality can be.
I mention it, only because I see a pretty good bit of that going on among some of your fans right now. The speed with which they rush to blog sites to rip into any possible critic, suggests not merely that they believe in you, (and heaven knows, they have every right to do that) but that they are also unwilling to consider that you could ever be wrong.
Truth is, if you stay in office long enough, you’re going to be wrong at some point; because it’s a very tough job and no one gets it perfectly right.
So in the spirit of the movie business, that’s my advice to start the week off: Be careful of how much you believe the hype. You have every chance to be a good president; and as I’ve said before, maybe even a great one. But that doesn’t come from silencing the critics. It comes from welcoming them, and given them answers that convince even people who are not your fans, that you know what you are doing.
Hey, what’s your favorite movie? I’m thinking The Godfather, because pretty much every guy seems to like it. Did I ever tell you I was once a film critic?
Time for me to FADE OUT and get some sleep. In the office early tomorrow, so call if you can. Pretty much clear until at least 10:30.
For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.
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