January 21st, 2010
10:17 AM ET

Dear President Obama #367: Shhh ... I think I hear something

Reporter's Note: President Obama is facing a new year and a new challenge: A no longer filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Well, I’ve got my own problems; such as being on day two of another year of writing every single day to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Watching the coverage of the fallout from Massachusetts, (or as your fellow Dems are no doubt calling it, “The Boston Massacre – 2010”) I am told you are going to take to the road again, to meet with normal Americans, and try to better explain your ideas for the country. I can’t take any issue with that. If all presidents spent more time with the people they represent, and less time with the DC crowd, the whole nation would undoubtedly be better off.

But if I were you, I don’t think I’d go out there to talk at this point. I’d go to listen.

One of the problems that smart people have, (and I’ve met some, so I know about this) is that they often assume when people don’t agree with them, that is because those folks don’t understand. Heck, I’m guilty of this, and I’m not even particularly bright; as evidenced by writing an entire year’s worth of letters to a person who never responds. Ahem.

Anyway, the other day I was telling my producer about this idea I had for a story. I was all lathered up, going on and on, and suddenly she said, “No. I don’t like that.”

“Wait, wait,” I said, “you’re not following me, what I mean is…” and I explained it again. And again, she said she was not interested. We went through that cycle…oh, seven or eight more times…and then she finally said, “Listen, I get what you are saying. I’m not stupid. I just don’t agree.”

That was a revelation. I was so convinced my idea had merit I could not imagine that someone else would not see that. But in the end, I accepted her rejection. We spent the day working on another idea, and the result was a good story, that pleased us both. Granted, it was based on her inferior idea, which was only saved by my brilliant reporting, but let’s not quibble…

You can see what I’m driving at. America understands pretty well what you and your fellow Democrats have wanted to do. I think they just don’t agree with your plans. That doesn’t mean they don’t like you, or can’t trust you, or want to push your party into the Potomac, or won’t listen to new plans.

But a lot of them want to remind you why they voted for you in the first place. And they want you to listen. Of course, if they ask me, I’ll just have to say, “Well, yeah, I’ve wanted him to call me for quite a while too, and you see how that has worked out.” Ha!

More mañana.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Jeanette

    That seems to be the problem with Obama and all of congress. They don't listen to the people. They are too busy trying to figure out whats best for them instead of whats best for America and the people.

    I don't know that the republicans will do any better but we have to show our dissatisfaction by voting them out. We need a third and better party to be able to vote against both of them. The problem is the media doesn't support a third party and the debates are not even set up with a third party invited to participate so people can hear other views instead of politics as usual.

    January 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  2. Gary Ferrulli

    Tom, I like the letter, up to the part where you say "or can't trust you".
    That is exactly where the problem is, trust. Let's say that in September 2008 Mr. Obama's campaign speechs were filled with "When I'm elected, I'll approve a budget with 9000 earmarks; within a year I'll double the national debt; I'll bail out private enterprise that has been mismanaged with no strings attached and watch as most of their earnings reports rise while at the same time unemployment rises to over 10% and housing forclosuers continue to climb; and that thing about making the legislative process transparent, on C-Span, that was just kidding". Would he have been elected on that platform?
    You see the independents who voted for Mr. Obama heard his campaign promises and compare them to his actions since being in office, and he has gotten negative reaction in may ways. But the biggest one is trust, when they see what he's done vs what he campaigned on, they don't trust him. This the negative reactions.

    January 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Nathaly, MA

    i love your letters!!! I wish the Presidente would get to read them some day! Suerte!

    January 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  4. johanne desir

    Mr president i only have one question for you with all that is giong in haiti when i can bring my family here they all are sleeping in the street and also iam an american citizen thank you for your understanding

    January 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  5. BJ

    I totally agree with you, Tom. I also think he needs to reinforce his own statements about "working across the aisle." In my life (and I am not 20 by any means, or even 40), I have never seen such a separation in parties - no one seems concerned about the country, only about what party you belong to and what does the party say about this and that. Many of our problems would be solved by listening and respecting the people of the US, instead of following party politics!

    January 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  6. Larry - Tennessee

    The politicians do not need to listen more. The politicians, all of them, in Washington need to loose their jobs and be forced to go back to where they came from and live the life that the rest of the US citizens are living now. They are so wrapped around one-upmanship, raising campaign bribes-funds, and attending closed-door meetings that they have no idea what is going on in their own districts, let alone the rest of the U.S.

    January 21, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  7. Kim

    Exactly. Spot on.

    January 21, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  8. Tim Gibson

    I hear you Tom and understand your pain, some folks just don't understand that almost free is never enough, that disagreement is not stupid, but even a disagreeable team can be reined in by a skilled team master.

    The beat of the drum is strong. How many days must fall before our leadership gets it. Understands that the depth of discontent in the nation is not because of a small group of radical right wingnuts. Understands we are a majority, concerned with the performance review of our leadership in Washington who appear to have forgotten the equation.

    January 21, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  9. David, Indiana

    I am just a regular person. Who am I supposed to listen to?

    January 21, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  10. Linda in Bealeton VA

    I invision (and I want to believe) Barack is sitting at his kitchen table in his plaid flannel jams (lap top in front of him, reading Toms letter to him each morning), scarfing down a bowl of Lucky Charms before he faces the nations most pressing problems. Tom, he may not be emailin' you about the content but I suspect he's reading it, if he isn't...he should be .

    January 21, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  11. Lynn

    such a simple thing – listening – but so hard for so many to do.......

    January 21, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  12. Fereda

    I do agree with what Tom is saying...the polititions needs to listen more..I love Obama and I would hate to see him go but if he continues to do what he is right now, hw won't be re-elected.

    January 21, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  13. Kula May R Ellison

    Good-Morning. I hear you
    your right polite about it.
    Mr President personally
    needs to take his words into action. There so many time he can go to the
    mainstream public before they wake up or already
    have realize Mr President
    has an different agenda than Americans. Sincerely,

    January 21, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  14. Louise

    Great letter to the President. He should listen to you

    January 21, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  15. ahrcanum

    The democrats believed in his plans until the MA election, realizing they too might be unemployed. You write what the producer says or loose your job, we go to work or loose our jobs. That's the facts and no amount of Pres O's listening is going to convince us that there is any change in his philosophical belief that The Constitution is flawed. Maybe he ought to put down books by Ayers and read some editorials or go google himself to listen to what the people have to say. Instead, he'll zip around the U.S. on Air Force 1 for more town hall meetings spewing "The change you can belive in," that no one really does- kinda like climate change!

    January 21, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  16. John Luke

    You are correct that smart people can be smart jerks. Ok so the concept should be then for more people to engage in the process rather than duck the issues and hope everything will work out because things aren't working out.

    January 21, 2010 at 8:31 am |