Reporter's Note: President Obama has wrapped up his foreign travels to return home and presumably catch up on his mail. The stack must be considerable. I’m writing a letter a day, and I’m pretty sure other people must have written too.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Welcome back from your big trip. It looked like a wonderful time in many ways, especially that final stop in Ghana. I say “in many ways” because I know there is always work involved, and sometimes the fatigue of traveling can be tough to bear.
I was once covering flooding up near Seattle and after working a twenty hour day I checked into a really nice hotel for, count ‘em, two hours of sleep during which I was called by our assignment desk in New York three times. So, like I said, I know road trips can sometimes leave a body feeling like road kill.
Speaking of traveling, are you following the Tour de France? Not long ago, I would have been thoroughly baffled by anyone watching bicycle racing. Kind of the way I feel about the Tyra Banks show now. But some years back (during the height of Lance-mania) I grew interested in Le Tour and now I never miss it. It appeals tremendously to my notions about not only the valiant glory of individual effort, but also the magnificent power of teamwork.
Time and again you see individual riders try to break away from the bigger group (the peloton, as it is called by the guys with calluses on their backsides) and some of them make it pretty far; opening up a lead of several minutes. But then the frères de peloton, pounding forward, sharing the job of cutting through the wind, feeding off of each other’s energy, slowly start crawling up on the breakaways. And it seems more often than not the man out front is gobbled up and disappears into that mass of riders well before the finish line.
What the teams do is combine those two types of power to create extraordinary speed and endurance. They share the load of moving their best riders through the peloton, setting them up for dramatic and excellent runs. The strategies are complex, nuanced, and I can claim only a passing understanding of it, much in the same way as I passed algebra. But when it works it is beautiful and unstoppable, and a great reminder: No matter how confident and talented any one competitor might be, a strong, focused team is what leads the way to victory.
Hey, for the record, I am also out of town now (You’re not the only one stacking up the miles!) so feel free to call, but don’t be surprised if you get voice mail. (“If you are the President of the United States, press one to leave a message…” Ha!)
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