Reporter's Note: The President of the United States has plenty of advisors; educated, experienced souls who have dedicated their lives to public service. However, for some reason, he has made it clear that he would also like advice from the rest of us. I find that confusing, but then he probably finds my response confusing too: a letter a day to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
It took a pretty good while, but it appears you are finally facing what every president faces at some point after he has unpacked his suitcases at the White House. Your poll numbers are falling.
My first advice: Take a deep breath. Relax. You are still pretty much the most popular politician on the planet, and certainly the most popular one here. Your Democratic buddies in Congress are about as well-liked as a wet sock in the face. And the Republicans hardly have time to even plan a bounce back, amid the torrent of debris from all their self-destructing colleagues. And don’t get me wrong. People still like you; in big numbers and in a big way. It’s just that the polls suggest they are getting a little shaky in their faith that you know what you are doing.
So my second advice: Watch “The Hustler.” I’ve mentioned in recent weeks that my family is screening a stack of classic movies this summer, and that I’m going to keep you abreast of our progress each Saturday, and this week I thought this great tale of a conflicted pool shark was particularly appropriate. (BTW, yes, I know that I’m leaning heavily on the Paul Newman flicks, but I can’t help it. I just love his work and usually love his characters.)
Fast Eddie Felson’s struggle to attain excellence, strike it rich, and simultaneously build and deny a meaningful human relationship captivates me every time. The question of what it means to “have character” dominates almost every frame. Some people find it a dark and depressing movie. I never have. I find it encouraging; a reminder that we all must find what we really believe in, amid all the other things that can so easily draw us on…money, fame, power, sex. In the end, Fast Eddie finds, among other things (such as Jackie Gleason is kind of o.k., but George C. Scott is one bad dude..) that he must ultimately ignore both the approval and the condemnation from others.
Not a bad thing to keep in mind as the polls start shifting, because you know it’s still quite early in your presidency. You are going to have ups and downs no matter how much you may hope otherwise. And there is nothing to do, but rack them up to experience, and keep playing the game you came with, as long as you think it is still the right game to play.
Do you like pool, by the way? I love the game. The sharp clack of the balls. The smooth felt of the table. The wonderful geometry of it all. I’m not any good, but if you’d care to place a wager on a game one day, you know, just for fun…give me a call.
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