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April 30th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #101: Fear and loathing ... and the future looms

Reporter's Note: As President Obama launches into his second hundred days in office, I remain undaunted. He asked for advice, and until he takes back the request, I will take to the keyboard every day with a letter to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Nice job on the news conference last night! Had to be a lot of pressure, what with the big hundred-day-milestone, the economy still rattling like Uncle Tony’s fake knee, and now pig flu sweeping the land. Remember, when facing my journalistic brethren you can’t ever let the sweat show or they’ll go after you like a terrier on a tennis shoe. Especially that Ed Henry. (I saw him light into a congressman once with such questions that the poor guy wound up in a corner of the Dirksen building whimpering like a school girl and begging for a Jonas Brothers t-shirt.) But you seem to have sussed that crowd out, so just hold it steady and you’ll be fine.

If the Presidency were a sporting event, (and of course it is!) this would be a break between periods; a time to review the game plan, grab a little water, and pump up for the next round, so I’ve drawn up a list of the five most dangerous items to watch for as the next hundred days start toddling by.

1) The TARP Money – Seriously, this program is so badly stacked for potential ripoffs and waste, if your money team does not completely slam some cuffs on it and get it under control, it could turn into a scandal that will dog you until the cows come home. Assuming we can still afford cows...

2) Afghanistan – I know you are already watching this one closely, but here’s the thing: Just saying you’ll send more troops to bring things under control without making it clear precisely what that means could turn into an open-ended drain on the military and your political reputation back home, as both the Russians and former President Bush (the 2nd one) can tell you.

3) Health Care Reform – You want it, you promised it, you believe in it and you have to proceed with it. But watch your back. There are plenty of powerful folks out there with their own ideas about this, and trust me, they’ve got a whole different blueprint.

4) Overreaching – Everyone knows you have big ideas and confidence. Make sure they don’t lead to a big head and overconfidence; both are way too easy to come by for anyone who sits in the Oval Office.

5) Culs de sac – Like I said, you have big ideas; that’s why people voted for you. They want your big visions for big change, and if you allow yourself to be lured into small fights or secondary issues too much, they’ll start resenting it and asking where Mr. Hope went. Washington specializes in stupid little fights over stupid little issues, and that has dragged down plenty of promising leaders over the years. So you might want to keep that in mind.

The only other suggestion I have to kick of this next session is that you might want to invite Prince to the White House. And then you might want to call me to come over and hear him play. Ha! But seriously, that would be fun…

Call when you can. Onward and upward!

Regards,

Tom

For more of the Foreman Letters, go here.

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