February 26th, 2010
03:01 PM ET

Welcome to D.C.! Passport, please

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

I spent the week in Austin amid barbeques, Longhorn fans, and strangers who greeted me more warmly than some of my friends do. Of course that’s to be expected. My friends know me. Nonetheless I was struck by how very odd the shenanigans in Washington, D.C., must look to someone from another country. For example, America.

It does appear at times that we and our leaders live in utterly different worlds. Our latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found overwhelming numbers of us think our government is broken, and almost 60 percent are not even happy with how our democracy itself is working. I suspect that’s partially because the Capitol power crowd so often ignores our calls for action on important issues as if we are babbling in Czech.

Polls say most Americans are now ok with gays in the military, for instance, but for some reason that can’t be settled. On the other hand, the same polls (or others like them) show most Americans are worried about the provisions in health care reform legislation, and yet there is a hell-for-leather effort to jam it through.

Government should not twist in the wind to answer every sudden shift in public opinion, but sometimes it’s like a wacky store that takes your money and then gives you whatever it feels like. Or one of those late night drive-thrus where you order a taco, fries and a cold soda; but you get a chicken sandwich, hot chocolate, and an apple fritter.

This should be a bipartisan gripe, by the way. Congress members from both parties seem more clueless than ever when it comes to this business of satisfying the desires of the public. Which is weird when you think about how often they are caught with hookers.

I’m sure some elected officials want to help; but they just can’t. My theory is that although we all appear to be speaking the same language, there is an impenetrable, mysterious communications barrier between us that even the Rosetta Stone gang can’t crack.

Yes, that must be it. In Spain once an old woman on the waterfront in a quaint town asked me the way to the liquor store. Either that or she wanted to know if I would play clarinet at her funeral. See? I wanted to help, I just couldn’t.

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

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