May 23rd, 2009
07:44 AM ET

Dear President Obama #124: Cap and clown

Reporter's Note: Our President, Barack Obama, is delivering graduation speeches as politicians often do at this time of year. And yet even while he gives advice to some Americans, he is soliciting suggestions on how the run the country from the rest of us. I tried standing in front of the White House shouting out speeches and that did not work out so well, so I am writing a letter a day.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

You’ve been giving a lot of advice to graduating college seniors lately, and that’s no surprise. Seems like everyone over 30 has some idea that younger people need steering into their adult years, and judging from how some of these kids turn out, no doubt they are right. But it seems like you and the rest of the commencement crowd have that base pretty well covered, so I want to offer here my own ideas for a speech you could give, not to the grads, but to their parents.

“Dear Parents,

Congratulations on getting your son/daughter/other through college. Heaven knows with the cost of higher education these days, you could have scored a new car, taken a big vacation, and put in that home theater you’ve always wanted; but no, you invested in making your offspring smarter and for that the nation thanks you.

Young people are our most precious resource. After oil. And maybe timber. In any event, they matter. The better we prepare them for their careers, the better the food and views will be in the old folks’ homes they stuff us into as the Baby Boomers roar into senility.

Yet as you applaud your son/daughter/other and wish that young person well in his or her career/travels/unemployment/further education (Heaven help us)/or selection of cellmates, remember that you were once young too. And just as you wanted to chart your own course, this young soul has dreams of his/her own.

Maybe you were an accountant, and he/she wants to own a pet shop. Maybe you were a Republican, and he/she wants to be a Democrat (Oh yeah, bring it around town…) Or maybe you were an inside trader, and he/she wants to be a Supreme Court Justice. (If so please hand your resume to any of the jacketed, sunglassed agents hovering around the podium…but don’t move to quickly while you do that.) The point is, young people have a right to their own dreams. The America they want is not necessarily the America you grew up with. (For example, “Flipper” is no longer on the air, and a comeback seems unlikely.)

You have encouraged your children to love their country; now let them do so in their own fashion. You have taught them the values of public service, (although as I have noted several times, apparently not the values of using turn signals and keeping their yaps shut in movie theaters;) now let them serve as they see fit. You have shown them what it means to pursue the American dream; and now, no matter how badly it turned out for you, let them take a run at it.

In short, parents of the Class of 2009, there are many things we do for the future; efforts for which we will personally see little or no return; but they are not wasted. America is a living, breathing, changing experiment in the freedom of mankind, and your children are now full catalysts in that great amalgamation. Every generation fears for the nation under the next; and each generation (so far) has kept the Democracy afloat. And despite the economy, the runaway cynicism of business and politics, and that unfortunate incident with the cat and the shop vac, your child will probably do fine too.”

Anyway, that’s it. I know it’s a bit rough, but if you get a chance to use any of it, give me a call and I’ll alert my mom. She would be so proud.



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. nea-nea

    I just want to say that i Thank you President Obama and Wife Michelle for what you are doing about education over all thank you for your focus in that direction by doing so you are encouraging a lot of young people to reach for more in life in a positive way.Thank you GOD BLESS THE BOTH OF YOU.,

    May 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  2. RLWellman

    Think about what we are telling our young people. If you get pregnant, get an abortion, killing is fine. Don't pray in school you can't, it's against the law. If you don't want to work, that's okay, the government will take care of you. If you want to buy something you can't afford, go ahead, again the government will take care of you.
    What ever happened to accountabilty? If you don't respect yourself, how can you respect others?

    May 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Kris abbott

    Wish my parents had this speech!

    May 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm |
  4. D.M. Davis

    Will this President ever get anything right? He hires a fellow who was running the NY Federal Reserve where the majority of excessive ninja loans were being authorized. He knows nothing about wealth creation or fiscal responsibility.The organization he is most associated with , is under investigation for various undertakings of a questionable nature. Please get him to hire individuals who have had to meet a production schedule or manufactured and succeeded in making something that actually is needed, and desired.

    Please refer him to Pepperdine U. and please,please make him listen to Reisman's words.

    Please direct him right towards reality.

    May 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  5. William Courtland

    If I could now ask the President one thing... like back in the election methods...

    How do you feel about the Party System: when you truly review its existance verses something else? Totaltarian... All Citizen.

    May 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  6. kw

    john mccain was tortured to near death and he gave his captors names of a pro. ball team and other 'false stories . good for him. Are we to suppose to believe that he would have have given up vitual information to his captors if they had known to just give him a candy bar and maybe a soda or something like that.

    May 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  7. Rob K

    I am really interested in knowing what Obama's views are on gay marriage. It amazes me that 5 states have now passed gay marriage laws and there has been no statement, as of yet, from President Obama. This is a very polarizing issue and I am interested in hearing your thoughts as to why he has not made any statements towards the gay marriage issue.

    May 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm |
  8. lam0nt Austin

    Tom you've earned all of those accalades and for what? to say what Obama should've said? If our president is inspiring please email me with an offer for a position or your position because I could do a much better job.

    Ron Lamont Austin
    Tucson Az

    Im serious

    May 23, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  9. earle,florida

    " a sprinkle of sweetness on educated minds in a democracy,makes craving freedom's deserts all the more blissful"

    May 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  10. Marilyn Cade

    Dick Cheney needs to keep his mouth shut; he had his chance and screwed up beyond words. Media reporting his current comments and keeping him in the spotlight just feeds his out of control ego and arrogance. I've had enough of him a long time ago, and the destruction he created world wide through his puppet Bush. Let us keep moving forward towards a better world for all rather than rehashing the recent disastrous past.

    May 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  11. Charles D. Sands

    Anyone notice that CNN no longer keeps a daily Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan "killed in action count" ? Seems our soldiers killed in Obama's "international contingency action" are not now news and their deaths now not as significant as those that died in Bush's "War on Terrorism". Whatever the semantic "CHANGE" the dead did their sworn duty to protect our Country and died for it. So CNN and Mr. Anderson Cooper please continue the same klled in action count and reporting now as under Bush to honour ourn dead.

    May 23, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  12. Susan K, Highland Park IL

    AMEN! we will survive!

    May 23, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  13. Joyce

    Normally I love these 'letters to the President' and find them spot-on and amusing. Today, I couldn't get past the fact that you assumed the parent paid for the college education. I paid for every cent of my education, so did my husband. I am so tired of hearing kids say "I can't go to college, my parents can't afford it." If you want something bad enough, you will find a way. I went to a top-rated State University and my husband has his doctorate. When the time come to send our daughter to school, we will easily be able to afford it, but she will have to find a way to pay for it on her own. Our children have to learn that this world is not a free-ride. Maybe if people learned that lesson earlier, there wouldn't be so many people who feel it is their right to live free off the government.

    May 23, 2009 at 9:34 am |
  14. Leslie

    I was not surprized by your comments about Michael Vick the other night. It is more of your racial blabber as usual! The man made a mistake! I love dogs too and though what he did is terrible, the man is a human being and everyone deserves a second chance! You are supposed to be a reporter and state the facts, not use personal comments like " I don't really care what happens to him" . You don't know or don't care about the effects of what you say will have on the person you are judging. Who died and make you king? Just like you did in your interview with the Pres.,you showed that you have no class at all! I used to think you were ok but over the months and years I see that I was wrong! You are just another self serving, 15 minutes of fame grabbing small mined dude; like John King, Wolf, Cambell, and of course your partner in grime, Erica. It's sad to see the demise of journalism for you have brought it to an all time low!
    Well that's my ten cents. I doubt anything I say will sway you, but if you are human, think about what I said, look in the mirror and get back to me!
    The Pimpernel 🙂

    May 23, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  15. Scott Stodden

    I want to say how wonderful and what an honor it has been for President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and many others to speak at different graduation ceremonies all across the country. It would be something I would never forget if a head of state spoke at my graduation. Iam still upset at Notre Dame for the people and bishops that protested the Presidents speech and the one's who were so rude while the President was speaking let me just say how rude you all were and what an embarresment. Its ok to express your point of view but not while the person is speaking, I just want to thank President Obama and everyone who took the time to go to these schools and speak to these students and graduates, what an honor and a privilige it was.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport, IL)

    May 23, 2009 at 7:55 am |