February 28th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

Dear President Obama #405: The whole truth? Who knows?

Reporter's Note: President Obama has a lot of advisors. But perhaps he needs one more. And who can express himself, for example in a letter a day to the man in the Oval Office.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

At one point during your big health care summit this past week some lawmaker (not sure which one, because sometimes they all seem so much alike; if I were President I would totally be requiring name tags) said something about how we can’t even carry on a conversation unless we agree on some basic facts. I think he was pleading for everyone to accept that the Farmer’s Almanac can be trusted…or something like that.

The problem is, in these really hot debates, even if the sides agree on which sources to trust, they inevitably start cherry picking which facts they use so the standardized source doesn’t really matter. For example, you and I could absolutely agree to use only official USLDL statistics (of course I mean the United States Lawn Dart League) and yet we might individually find plenty of evidence to support our differing choices for USLDLICDC (United States Lawn Dart League Intramural Champion Dart Chucker.)

That’s why I think you should appoint me Official Keeper of the Truth. Please allow me to run through my qualifications.

I am well read, having plundered the pages of many thousands of books, newspapers, and magazines, many of which had few if any pictures. I have studied not only subjects that I find interesting, but also all sorts of arcanery. Yes, arcanery. I just made that word up, which underscores my second qualification: I am open to innovation.

While I will honor the time honored “truth” as it appears on say Jeopardy, I will also be willing to accept that truth changes with time. For instance, it was true many years ago that Wayne Newton was a dazzling young singer whom everyone thought might be a girl. But today we all know that he is instead much older and apparently saying “danke schoen, but no danke schoen” to debt collectors. Take my word for it I can wrap my head around those twin realities as easily as the Salahis can sneak into a Tupperware party.

I am patient and willing to consider all possibilities. Hey, I’ve written more than 400 letters and you have never responded. And yet, I concede that you might be too busy. See?

I am fair. Whenever I split a snack with someone, I try to make it a perfectly even split. Even with candy bars.

I am tough and unafraid of making people angry. I hope that doesn’t bother you. Oh wait…

I don’t actually take much of what you politicians do very seriously; so I won’t worry that the truth I roll out is going to shake the world too deeply. I’ll just say what I know.

I’m not easily fooled. Except for that one time with the Nigerian bank account.

How would all this work? Not sure about that. I guess you could give my cell number to the whole Congressional crowd and they could just call me when they wanted to check out whether something is true or not. Seems like that could get messy though, and heaven knows what the pranksters would get up to: “Hello Tom, I know it’s 3 a.m. but this is Senator Largemelon with a question. Is it true you’re having trouble sleeping? Awwwhahahahahahaha!”

And what if I got something wrong? That talk show crowd would flare up like a stripper on Jerry Springer when she finds out her boyfriend is also slipping tips to the Waffle Top waitress, if you know what I mean.

Hmmm. I guess maybe this is not such a good idea after all. Still, I’ll consider it more if you want to call and chew it over with me. At least I know that’s the truth.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Jed Brown, Utah

    Wow! Good stuff Tom! You do well with comedy!

    I have been thinking about the problem of facts and truths and I think it would be good to have an independent fact checking team present at all events where there is a camera. After some one speaks, they can be like a referee and blow a whistle when someone makes a foul with a non fact. They could even have referee jerseys!

    February 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  2. Dag

    I really think the President and the Democratic leadership should revisit the notion of Medicare for all in light of the Health care debate this past Thursday.
    Now, during the debate, the republicans, did make some decent philosophical points about valid issues regarding insurance pools, mandates and cost. I do think that the Democrats can solve this by passing Medicare for all with an option for opting out and precise policy implications for doing so.
    This in my opinion takes away allot of the arguments of the republicans (even the abortion issue for the blue-dogs), and streamline the story that the Democrats have to sell to the voters which can be summarized in 3 simple points.
    I'm aware that it may be too late in the game for such a change in strategy but I do believe that it may take such a shift in order to catch the opposition party by surprise and retake control of the message.

    February 28, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  3. Tim Gibson

    Name tags aside, we can always rely on the standard of face recognition when a change to word breaks leads to truth being stretched tighter than a Hollywood face lift.

    I, like many thousands are open to innovation, having been well read and plundered by the Rangle dangle changing truth. Patience turns to impatience with an uneven split in tough times thank you very much.

    The truth may just be that we are no longer easily fooled.

    February 28, 2010 at 8:36 am |