January 26th, 2010
11:35 AM ET

Dear President Obama #372: Beyond the beltway

Reporter's Note: President Obama is traveling a bit to “reconnect” with average Americans. Good idea.

And here’s a better one: He might want to remind his lawmaker friends that those average folks are really the bosses in this relationship.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

When my family and I moved to DC a little more than nine years ago, I expected to find that I was wrong in my longstanding assessment of the Cap crowd. I’d made more than my fair share of cracks about the out-of-touch lawmaking, tasseled loafer, lawyer set that roamed the marbled halls of power (yes, I know what you call a hundred politicians at the bottom of the bay) and I was genuinely ready to find out that I was mistaken.

And I might add, often that is the case. I don’t mean that I am often wrong, although some might make that argument. What I mean is, when I or anyone else sits on high, pronouncing judgment on the inadequacies of others, it’s pretty easy for the judge-o-matic to be in error. Sometimes we just don’t understand the circumstances that the person faces, or we misread the sincerity of their actions, or we just don’t have a clue.

But having studied the Washington crowd pretty “up close and frightening” for the past near decade, I have to say…uh…I was not terribly off the mark on this one. DC really does have trouble relating to the rest of the country. And even though living in Washington can blind you to that fact, all I have to do is take a trip outside of the Beltway, and suddenly my vision clears right up.

For example, by an odd stroke of luck, I am in New Orleans this week. (Lucky, because you know my abiding love for the Saints…and uh…Po Boys) And I must tell you, that I am struck by how interested everyone here is in all sorts of things beyond what DC seems to think is important. For months all I’ve heard back home is health care,

balance of power, foreign policy, the deficit…yadda, yadda.

But people out here are ginning up new jobs; not waiting on you political types to make it happen. They are talking about the health of the families and what they should do to take care of them; not fretting over whether you’ll pass your health plan. They are pressing on with their lives and they seem to see DC as a distant, nearly mythical place, which they’d just as soon keep that way.

In other words, while the political players in DC seem to think the whole nation is hanging on their every word and gesture that is just not the case. I’m not saying government does not matter. I’m just saying, day in and out, it would be well worth reminding your pals (Dems and Repubs alike) that just outside of DC is a great country where many people see government as important…but also needlessly self-important.

You can call to chat all this over if you’d like, but I may have to get back to you. I was in a fabulous Uptown restaurant tonight enjoying a fried oyster on a bed of fresh spinach with a light plum dressing, and then a steaming bowl of barbequed shrimp; so you’ll understand why my phone was off for a while. But leave a message. When the bread pudding is done, I’ll buzz you back. Ha!



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Tim Gibson

    Is ground zero really in New York or perhaps is it within the tasseled marble halls of power? From down here, when our leadership tells us we just do not understand, look around leaders, we understand make no mistake about that. We are the power, the generator of all that is in this land of freedom under attack.

    Now with the stable walls on fire, the herd stamping and snorting at the flames, in fear and desperation. It is those who do not understand who can open the stable doors or close them, it is those who do not understand who bare witness to the sloppy work of our "leaders." Those days are dust in the wind and best left to the words of JFK, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." A point the mystical crowd has forgotten in their own self-importance.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:39 am |