February 24th, 2009
11:36 AM ET

Dear President Obama #36: Dancing the Mardi Gras Mambo

Reporter's Note: President Obama has asked for ideas on how to run the government. Lately he’s even been chatting with Republicans about this, so I see no reason to stop my daily letters to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Happy Mardi Gras! Being from Chicago, I’m sure it’s not one of the top holidays on your list, but we New Orleanians always have room for one more at the fais do do. Actually, I don’t suppose I can properly call myself a native, since I lived there only five years, but the city took such a special place in my heart I’ve considered it home ever since.

We had a very nice party at our house over the weekend, and I wish you could have made it. Everyone would have been delighted to see you. Crawfish spread, shrimp po-boys with remoulade sauce, three kinds of jambalaya, hurricanes, and king cake just to give you a little taste of the menu. A fair number of the guests were former New Orleans residents, so we sat around telling stories of the city we love, and past Carnivals, while the fire burned down and Big Chief played on the stereo. Seriously, you would have loved it.

When our guests were leaving, one said, “You know, I think this is a time when people really need to get together, share each other’s company, and put our worries into perspective.”

I thought you should hear that because millions of Americans right now seem to be searching for a way out of their worries, and into more hopeful days. I watched as you met with that group of Democrats, Republicans, and economists to talk about your plans, and I was impressed with the genuine concern numerous folks seemed to bring to the room. But now that your stimulus plan has been approved, I suspect what many people want to see is confidence. Whether it comes from you, Congress, or the private sector may not even matter.

I’m not suggesting we pretend our problems aren’t real, or imagine that positive thinking alone can lift us out of the abyss. But without confidence and hope, people tend to give up; they don’t try as hard as they might; and failure needs only wait to win. New Orleans learned long ago, and again recently, how to endure difficult times, persevere, and rise again; all the while enjoying each day you are given as best you can.

So Happy Mardi Gras, again. Lent is upon us, but spring is coming. Remind folks of that, and call when you can.



soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Trisha Ntalianis

    I also lived in New Orleans for 5 years and am missing it terribly. I think New Orleans taught me that no matter what life is handing out to you, enjoying the people around you is the most important thing. New Orleans was not a rich town in money but in friends it was one of the most valuable. Happy Mardi Gras to all those who stayed around to make it a better place. Your faith that a better time is coming is something we can all take to heart right now!


    February 25, 2009 at 1:12 am |
  2. Annie Kate


    The food and party sounded like it was great. Obama missed a good one didn't he?

    While our problems are serious there are other things to life that are good and that we can smile about and not be so somber. I hope Obama iimparts some confidence tonight and is reassuring without being all gloom and doom. I know I could use it.

    February 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  3. Roger D Smart, PO1, USN, Retired

    Mr President;

    I want to help with help in saving money and stop Waste, Fraud, and Abuse. I am referring to the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. Its a law that is truly bias, and wrong. I get an annual raise by DFAS every year, but so does my ex spouse who did not serve or get in harms way. Why should I have to continue to pay her 30% of my retainer to her for LIFE when she has remarried?

    February 24, 2009 at 7:02 pm |
  4. xtina, chicago IL

    tom – you're having the best food in the world, but missing the paczkis in chicago today.

    unfortunately , obama is from the school of "throw money at a problem" . Shouldn't it annoy more people that Obama's wish is more and bigger government?

    February 24, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  5. AbdulHussein abbas

    I just wanted to THANK the president or quoting the Pharse from the Islamic Koran "none of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for his himself " on the Breakfast day with the foreign leaders it is not everyday you hear a presi. using islamic quotes, it was a great honor from us, sharing the same middle name and coming from the same country his father was born. Thank you and it nice a pleasure watching CNN it is one of the best and honest cable network so far, eg AC360 to name one of them. keep up with the good work bring all the exciting news you have, and have a great day to all at CNN.

    February 24, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  6. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Happy "Fat Tuesday,"--–maybe you will post this one.

    February 24, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  7. L. Carilo, H.R., CO

    Take Two:

    Okay, Tom. A follow-up to a follow-up from my suggestion last week about the book that you should be working on.

    Front cover: Imagine yourself sitting on steps beside an “old fashioned” post box – the kind that is literaly on a post. You have opened it, sadly only to find it empty.

    Back cover: better yet, a pile of a hundred “return to sender” letters from the White House (Very sad).

    Just a suggestion. Oh, and by the way, make sure the book release date is not in the same month as Jack Gray’s…my budget only allows for one book a month.

    L. Carilo

    February 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  8. Duggirala Surya Narayana Murthi

    President Barack H Obama’s approach to the crisis of the American economy is one of caution and ambition. His plan of stimulus depends on the honest utilization for which it is intended and people for whom it is intended. The fruits of his efforts may take a lead time of two/three year time span and the real impact may be felt around the end of the term. If that happens it can be said that he brought the change he talked about.

    But his approach to ‘war on terror’ is a continuation of previous administration except that it is Afghanistan now instead of Iraq. He may be making the same mistake as his predecessor thinking himself as a Messiah of the world.

    The President’s priority should be America and not World at the present. He should take care of America and leave the rest to take care of itself. The counties he is helping on war of terror themselves are breeding terrorists.

    February 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  9. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Being a native of Louisiana, we try to forget our troubles and live our live in paradise for a week-–and in the end we have six weeks to repent for our frivilous activities. It is a temporary escape--but in reality we all have to go back to our trouble times and lives-–but for a while (Madri Gras) the world and universe is in harmony--only wish we could extend that week....Happy Madi Gras--Tom!

    February 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  10. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    You're right. The parades I've been to so far have been with family and friends, and for those hours no one on the parade route worried about anything more than having fun. It was nice to just be together with people I don't see every day, eat foods I normally don't eat, and have the biggest issue be what to do with all the beads we caught. Life is what we make it no matter what happens. Here's to worrying less and enjoying what we have more.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  11. Eugenia - San Francisco

    Writing is a type of therapy and I think it's great your on #36.

    February 24, 2009 at 10:10 am |