April 5th, 2009
08:32 AM ET

Dear President Obama #76: Regrets ... I've had a few

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama has asked for advice from average Americans on how to run the country, so I’ve been writing a letter a day to the White House. Not sure if it’s helping, but I’m certainly helping the office paper industry.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I loved that question at that town hall meeting in France: Do you ever regret having run for President? And I was intrigued by it, because I have wondered the same thing about every President.

At first it’s all ceremony and excitement. New Presidents roll out their plans, assemble their teams, put photos of their wives onto the desk, and we all get accustomed to how they do business. Then in a heartbeat, it’s all old hat. Their speeches start sounding the same, their policies seem stale, Ed Henry starts badgering the fellow, and about that time the new chief exec starts looking like a guy who has accidentally wandered into a La Leche League meeting.

And your answer sounded like you are about halfway through that door.

You seemed uncomfortable, tired, a little melancholy, maybe even wistful for the old days when you were just a Senator hanging out at the Field Museum and shopping in the Loop. When you talked about sitting at a French café watching the passing crowd, it seemed like you were lapsing into the kind of nostalgia most folks don’t enjoy until their ‘70’s.

Life choices are tough. I’ve had a wonderful career of travel, excitement, meeting many people, witnessing world events; but some years ago I had to decide. I could either keep being the kind of field reporter who spends his life on airplanes, and sees his family on weekends. Or I could move to DC, give up a little of the fun, focus on politics and economics, and tuck my own kids into bed each night. I chose the latter. Sometimes I wonder if I should have done something else, like pursue my dream of becoming the pottery king of Arizona, but not often.

The thing is though, you’ve sort of got a contract for your job, and I don’t think you could easily bow out even if you wanted to. So here’s my advice. Try a trick I learned long ago when I worked in a grocery store, when the days seemed terribly long, and the job just terrible. I reminded myself that it really was my choice to be there, that what I was doing actually did matter, and that soon enough I would be walking into the night with the store lights flickering out behind me, proud of having endured and done the job right.

Hey, if it worked in the canned goods aisle; my guess is it could make the Oval Office seem o.k., too.

Hope your Sunday is going well. Hard to believe Easter is just a week away. We have a screamingly funny Easter Bunny costume that we dress our dog up in. Are you having family over?



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    T he President looks good--he's got a rough road to travel-–and he has to take it one steop at a time--we all wish--and sometimes we must be careful what we wish for--because it can come true--better to live your dream than to wish your life away.

    April 6, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  2. Neo

    I don't think he regrets being President. He seems to be enjoying it, actually but you never know. I just hope he has a moral compass and is okay with the choices he makes AS President. I wonder if he has any regrets that way .... would be a good question to ask.

    April 6, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  3. Lyza Morss

    Hi there,

    It's Palm Sunday, and a creepy parallel comes to the fore that really scares me. We've put so much onto the shoulders of Obama, and we're so hopeful that he is the "magic elixir" that can cure it all, it's as if our expectations of him are similar to what we'd expect of the new Messiah.

    Methinks this is very dangerous territory...Y'know, given how this went with the last guy...

    I've posted a similar query on twitter @trick_or_tweet.


    ~Lyza Morss

    April 5, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  4. Ben White

    Great Letter. I was intrigued by the question as well, and was particularly impressed with President Obama's answer. We all got to see the real Barack Obama who is an extremely gifted communicator. I know that both myself and the author of this letter understood exactly what the President was talking about. His ability to communicate and connect with people is remarkable and a real talent.

    April 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  5. Juliana Pisanzio

    Great writing! fun to read....

    April 5, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  6. Mike Boudreau

    Regrets...wow you discovered President Obama is human?? Most normal people have regrets even on purchases. That doesn't ultimately mean they didn't want the product they bought? President of the United States is a very tough job, and with all the junk thrown on his plate from the start...just be glad he's there and not Grampy McCain. Feel good that you have a President that self reflects...without it we never realize the good and poor decisions we've made. Or you have the option to go with a VP Cheney who has no regrets or won't admit mistakes at all...that to me is a little delusional and scary.

    April 5, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  7. JackieD

    love these letters!

    April 5, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  8. Sylvia Franks

    Great letter Tom! In so much as all the hyphe has died down about Obama being the first Black American Present – now, Mr. President, suck it up, tighten it up, and straighten up this country and our economy.

    April 5, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  9. Isabel

    Hi, Tom!

    Today your post is looking end of party – when at daybreak, all were away, and the house was to be stowed. The euphoria finished and the only remained the reality. What discouragement!

    I liked his choice of personnel. The doubt about this choice is normal, but the important thing is that life itself show that the choice was the best and worth the trip to exchange a path by others.
    I still seek such signs in my life.

    In last Friday, AC360 was placed the matter if the President would be repent to have apply for Presidency. In some moments, perhaps. Like everything in life. But for him also, I hope that life shows that it was worth their choice. A grateful nation. And why not? the world.

    Tom, I wish a great Sunday for you ... despite doubts about the news of the morning (N. Korea 'satellite')

    April 5, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  10. m

    I don't think the President is getting wore down. I think he's thriving on the prospect of change and has a vision of what the future can bring that's far outweighs the price of being President. The alternative is giving up and returning to the dismal policies that brought us to this point and the decline of the American dream. We've seen what doesn't work and any wear we may see is the result of his devotion to the job and the enormous task at hand of implementing change.

    Sure there's going to be stress, and it doesn't help that the GOP doesn't want to engage and participate in the process. It's like going to the S-bowl with only the offensive line. It takes the entire team and for now he's trying to play with half a team. I'm confident he'll fight to the end regardless of the toll it takes on him, but it sure would be nice if the GOP came forth with ANYTHING of substance instead of just criticism. It gets old hearing the GOP criticize everything he's attempting to do, but you NEVER see any alternatives or suggestions, just that generic statements about how his decisions are wrong.

    I'd rather see him fight and fail than failing before the game gets underway by trying the same thing that didn't work the last time it was tried.

    April 5, 2009 at 9:59 am |