Reporter's Note: President Obama reads my letters every day. At least I think so. Or I like to think so. Either way, I write them…day after day to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tom Foreman | BIO
President Obama may be celebrating his health care victory, but the crowd is restless. Hence my letter to the White House has a certain tone of foreboding; and yes, I used “hence” and “foreboding” in the same sentence. Welcome to the 1800’s! Huzzah!
Dear Mr. President,
Yikes! Did you see our latest CNN/Opinion Research poll on what taxpayers (or as we like to refer to ourselves, “the bosses,”) think of the job you are doing? Like Larry King getting a pedicure, it’s not pretty.
Your numbers are in the basement right now, buried under the pup tent and the figure skates. People don’t much like the job you are doing on the economy, health care, the deficit, and I don’t want to even bring up how they feel about your Final Four bracket collapse. (Ok, I’ll bring it up anyway: You picked Kansas to win it all? Ha! Went down like the Hindenburg. What were you thinking?)
I have long thought that politicians spend way too much time worrying about their poll numbers and not enough time thinking about their policies, and I still feel that way. But putting too much emphasis on the numbers, and no emphasis on them are different things. Chasing all the dips and swoops in the polls can lead to ridiculous pandering and cheap flip flops. (Which reminds me, I need some cheap flip flops for spring vacation at the beach!) However, ignoring deep movements in the polls can lead to a disconnect with the very voters you are there to serve, and a one way ticket to Ex Presidentville.
Striking the balance is hard, but doable I think. For starters, you have to remember that being a successful elected leader does not mean doing what you want; it means doing what the people who elected you want. I know, I can almost hear you shouting, “Hold on, Dr. Populist!” Take it easy. I’m not talking about being a puppet of public whims. What I am saying is that great leaders are great because they understand their times, they reflect their times, and they show the people who put them in office that they really do share their core values and will fight for them. And right now, that’s where you are in trouble. Forget about the people who always opposed you. Think about the ones who believed in you, voted for you, and now have lost faith in you; and ask yourself why.
Oh well, who knows? That poll was taken before the big vote, so maybe you’ll get a bounce.
And, come to think of it, who am I to offer advice? If I were President we’d have a heck of a lot more holidays (anyone up for a Houdini’s Birthday Picnic?) and Gilligan’s Island would still be in prime time. But then, that’s probably why I’ll never be president. That and a certain incident from my past involving a possum, a pair of cymbals, and the Chi Omega sorority. But you don’t want to hear about my problems.
Or maybe you do. If so, give me a call. Unlike some of that surly Congressional crowd, I’m always glad to chat it up.
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