Reporter's Note: The President is asking the public for ideas on how to run the government. Considering the apparent seriousness of some of our problems, I’m not sure how comforting that is, but nonetheless I continue writing a letter a day to the Oval Office.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Is your Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner kidding? Is it possible that he is lightheaded from the onset of spring, of giddy over the astonishingly robust rebound in the stock market? (Cough, cough) I’m sorry to start this way. You know I try to be encouraging, but when I read his reason for green-lighting those AIG bonuses, I was astonished. Afraid of lawsuits if they weren’t paid?
Big time politics and big time business are both about not blinking when the other guy plays tough. If you are in the right, you stand up to your opponent’s threats and dare him to hit you. That’s how you deal with a bully, that’s how you deal with a cheater, and Geithner has been playing the game long enough to know that. You, too.
Again, sorry to be on such a tear, but this fries my potatoes. Not over the issue of the bonuses themselves (you, your pals in Congress, and the voters can hash out the rights and wrongs of that situation,) but more over the principle. By backing down and letting this happen, the message many people might take away is that you are more afraid of the folks with fat wallets than you are of the voters. And that could seriously undermine your whole “It’s time for change, no more politics as usual” message.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The people you are playing against to reclaim the U.S. economy don’t care how popular you are, they don’t care how much people cheer at your speeches, and I’m not entirely convinced they care what happens to the rest of us as long as their lawns still get mowed and the waitresses don’t spill their appletinis. Frankly, I think some of them would be perfectly happy for the “have-nots” to simply shut their traps, and quit pestering the “haves” with all this tedious talk of democracy, fairness, and justice.
This country elected you to stand up to that crowd and tell them that such principles genuinely matter; that America is not all about expedience, the bottom line, and catering to the powerful. I know the “bonus issue” is actually a tiny battle. But tiny battles can send huge messages, change the course of wars, and the fate of the world. Remember the Alamo.
All that said: How’d you like Leno? Seems like a nice guy. Did you send me a postcard?
For more of the Foreman Letters, go here.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with