January 28th, 2010
01:09 PM ET

Dear President Obama #374: The return of Fast Eddie ... or not?

Reporter's Note: President Obama gave his State of the Union address last night, and every pundit in the civilized world is giving his or her assessment today. Me? I’m just writing my daily letter to the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Nice job on the speech last night: inspiring phrases, soaring rhetoric, snappy applause lines, good beat…easy to dance to…“Dick, I’ll give it an eight!” Seriously, it was a good piece of work. Now whether it was enough…I can’t really say.

Millions of your fans were no doubt reminded of how you were on the campaign trail and how much that gave them hope for a new future. The biggest problem, however, is what all the semi-fans, independents, and moderates think. Because their support is what will likely sink or save your agenda. Did you really convince them that you are like Fast Eddie Felson? “I’m back!”

I read a good story earlier this week about Apple. Essentially it argued that part of Apple’s great success is that it does not spend a bunch of time prattling on about what it is going to do. To the contrary, it keeps its head down, says precious little about its plans, and then rolls out some awesomely cool product like the iPhone and lets everyone start drooling. If the product turns out to be a bust, (ahem…Newton!) experience has clearly taught them that the damage will be less if they haven’t spent too much time raising expectations. And if the product turns out to be wonderful, everyone is excited by the excellent surprise.

In politics, of course, you need the help of others, so you can’t exactly hide your light under a bushel. But sometimes I think if you and the Congressional crowd would quit talking so much about what you are going to do, and instead just do it, that might be better. Show us from the get go that you mean what you say and are willing to bet your political careers on it. As it is, all of you give big speeches and carry on about what great things you have in the hopper, and then we all wind up disappointed. It’s like some friend who is always talking about the great plans he has for a party, or a trip, or a night on the town, but never delivers. After a while you want to tell him, “Look pal, call me when you’re ready to go. Because frankly I’m tired of getting my hopes up for nothing.”

Again, it was a terrific speech. I think you had things in there for everyone, including your Republican buddies. But the real test, I suspect is going to be over the next six months when somehow you have to start delivering. Otherwise you run the risk of too many folks going around saying, “That guy? Well, he talks a good game…”

I’m working in Atlanta for the rest of the week so if you want to call make sure you use my cell.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Dave

    You know it's funny. It almost seems the President is not the President. Let me explain it seems for a long time the Parties seem to be seem to be dancing to the beat of a different ruler. They seem to be dancing around to a song that no one else can hear. I think they are doing what some other hidden ruler is telling them to do. Either Obama knows this already or he is in the dark as a puppet figurehead. I am not surprised by all this. It all a game that will not end well.

    January 28, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  2. Patrick kardys

    Great letter I really liked the apple reference (although I dispose them..) I'm a 17 year old male who is beginning to "jump into" the waters of politics. I personally saw him deliver a bit of what he promised in his campaign which is uniting the American people again. I saw him tell both parties they need to change, I really like that. He did have some fresh new and BIG plans that I am very excited to see when put through.. Over all a 10/10 on the speech

    January 28, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  3. Tim Gibson

    It is main street that is caught in the landslide, eyes open in the knowledge that comes from conflict and in need of more than a face when we stand at the three roads and ask if any of it will flourish.

    The reinvention and delivery of style and arrangement, trained in moving audiences to action through human discourse. A liberal wise sophism that one is not the same as the other, when logic tells us a wise man invested in some apples, and they must have done really well because he made a lot of money. Logic is not a radical division from knowledge or knowledge making.

    Do we see Fast Eddie Felson, the recycled dream child of Cecily von Ziegesar, or perhaps Sarah, Winifred and Mary. The remaining question is how long does one have to dance in the marathon to actually win or is the scratch off retirement plan the best bet at this time?

    January 28, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  4. Jaker

    Well...I see Joe Biden has got a new job...Obama's "Clapometer"!

    January 28, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  5. alexandra

    I think Obama just talked and talked as he always does the best since he is in the office, and all that are just lies and more lies. Whatever he said in his State of Union last night , it was the same old things. There is nothing that shows to American people things will turn around, no helps what so ever, and I just cannot believe that those people behind have the nerves to stand up and applause him. Basically, he is not the one that hurt and struggle every single day and month, we are, the American people and the middle class people. It is ashame that we have to deal with him for another 3 more years. If he really wants to help American people, especially the middle class, he needs to stop talk and talk, and start to do something. But so far, all I see from him, lies, lies, and more lies.

    January 28, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  6. Kula May R Ellison

    Good-Morning. Nice article
    I do enjoy my cell iPhone.
    Oh following you on twitter.
    Truly, Kula May

    January 28, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  7. Conserve' for USA

    The President talks a good talk. To bad he hasn't followed up on what he campaigned on.
    His plans to put governmental spending for somethings on hold and save 20 billion dollars a year. This will not even start until 2011. This spending by the government was raised 160 billion in 2009. That's still 140 billion more than in 2008.
    It's just a drop in the bucket when he has spent 1.3 trillion dollars. He wants us to be fiscally responsible, but the government still isn't going to be. This is a joke! He must think we're all stupid to believe this garbage he was spewing.

    January 28, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  8. Mary Ann

    I couldn't agree more : the President needs to show us that he is good at something besides delivering speeches. Show don't tell !

    January 28, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  9. Marie Noguerole (Portland,Oregon)

    Obama has always been clear about his agenda. The GOP on the other hand has done everything it can to muddy the waters and misinform the public. They know that the bulk of info voters get are the nightly sound bites just before they sit down to dinner or go to bed. Few are aware of political games that are going on in congress. I don't blame Obama for the current impasse...I blame Congress. The GOP for obstructing legislation; the DEM for lacking backbone. They should all dust off their resumes come election time.

    January 28, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  10. CitizenPain

    After a while you want to tell him, “Look pal, call me when you’re ready to go. Because frankly I’m tired of getting my hopes up for nothing.”

    That's it exactly, Tom. I'm right there too.

    January 28, 2010 at 8:29 am |