Reporter's Note: President Obama is trying to close the deal on health care. I’m trying to get through another letter to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
So I understand you’re headed to the Hill! Good for you. That Congressional crowd needs to be reminded now and then about who is in charge, or they’ll start putting their feet up on the furniture. That said, I suspect you’ll have your hands full, so as you try to rally support for health care reform (and finally get some kind of vote,) here are a few tips to bear in mind.
1) Twist arms, crack heads, bust knuckles…all of that is fine. Just don’t make anyone look like an idiot. Even if he or she is one. My father had a saying: “It you bare their face, they’ll get your ass.” My apologies for the language, and frankly that saying was one of the rare times I ever heard my dad use a profanity. But I stuck with the original, because it loses a little oomph when you say tuckus. Anyway, what he meant was, if you are going to have to work with a person again in the future (and you are) don’t make him or her feel so utterly crushed and humiliated that you can not be forgiven and trusted down the line.
2) Remember, at times like this you must strike a delicate balance between holding on to what you want, and compromising enough to make sure you get something worth getting. Can’t help you beyond that, except to say that you are stepping into what cops like to call a fluid situation, and winning or losing may be relative to the moment.
3) Don’t forget who elected you and why. And for that matter don’t forget the people who didn’t elect you either. As you pointed out in the campaign, we are the “United” States, and you quite eloquently argued for us finding ways to understand each other, work with each other, and give up the slash and burn tactics of 51 percent politics. In other words, make sure you ask yourself before you sign anything if it is what is best for the voters, not just what all your powerful political pals want. I’m not accusing, I’m just saying that’s an easy trap for any president to fall into.
4) Don’t, under any circumstances even by accident, use the word ethics. It’ll just make the whole bunch up there angry.
Keep in mind, (to borrow a phrase from you predecessor,) that you are the decider now. Senators put their fingers to the wind. Presidents are the wind. Oh, and I have a question: Do you ever intend to call? I’m a patient guy, but for crying out loud the frost is on the pumpkin.
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