Reporter's Note: President Obama asked Americans for advice on how to run the country when he took the oath. I have responded with a letter to the White House every day since. It’s my own way of being patriotic…and staying employed.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
When our children were very little, and they started bringing up too many problems, ideas, plans, or projects too quickly for us to process them, my wife and I used to say, “Uh oh, they’ve got us spinning!” What we meant was that the agenda of the day was being hijacked by a flurry of little hands pushing the merry-go-round so fast that we simply could not focus on any one thing and we were losing control.
It was subtle, if a hurricane can ever be called such. Our girls were never big on demanding things. They were generally well behaved. But as my father used to say, while adults are dealing with a world of problems, a kid often has only one thing on his or her mind. That allows that little person to focus his or her entire, munchkin-like being on that goal alone. You are thinking “work, mortgage, schedules, messages to be returned, a lawn to be mowed, a gift to be bought, a co-worker to be soothed” and the tiny dynamo at your side is thinking only “ice cream!” over and over and over again.
That is what I think is happening to your Presidency right now. You are out there still trying to deal with health care, but dozens of little hands are spinning the public debate in other directions: Afghanistan, missile shields, misbehaving celebrities, race relations, TV appearances, tea parties…on and on it goes.
I’ll take some of the blame. I know I have thrown a lot of topics at you and continue to do so. But unlike some others, I’m not generally demanding immediate attention and even if I did, seriously…do you think anyone notices when I demand something?
You can persevere on health care, or drop it, or take up another cause altogether. That’s your choice. My point is, as President, you have to be careful about letting people simply bury you under a barrage of demands for attention, and pulling your off of being effective in the areas that you choose. Because the thing is, even if they can’t get what they want from you, if they can simply make you focus on their issues instead of your own; well, that’s called winning half the battle.
I always say to call if you can, but maybe you really shouldn’t. Maybe a few days with fewer things to think about might do you good.
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