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May 3rd, 2010
09:54 AM ET

Dear President Obama #469: "Afraid to look"

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama traveled to the Gulf Coast this weekend to check up on the oil spill. I love going to the coast, but will have to get down here later…meanwhile, a letter will have to do, despite the fact that I did not receive even a postcard…hint hint…oh well, maybe it’s in the mail.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/04/30/louisiana.oil.spill/c1main.wetlands.gi.jpg caption="Foreman: I’m having trouble holding onto that notion as the days boil by on this situation, and I fear that I am coming to a realization that a place I have known all of my adult life may be changing dramatically and terribly." width=300 height=169]

Dear Mr. President,

Once in a while we all have epiphanies; moments when we come to a realization or an awareness that has eluded us in the past. For example, I remember the moment when it occurred to me that professional wrestling, while it was professional, was not really wrestling…and uh, real wrestling is not nearly as entertaining. I recall the exact instant that I came to understand the process of aging, which was 7:17 am one day after a half marathon for which I had not trained enough. And I don’t even want to mention the day, so long ago, when I was told that shrimp have cholesterol.

Point is I feel like maybe this Gulf oil spill is such a moment. As I mentioned the other day, I try to have faith that most times, most days, for all of our failings in government and society and business and technology, we can pull it together when the chips are down. But I’m having trouble holding onto that notion as the days boil by on this situation, and I fear that I am coming to a realization that a place I have known all of my adult life may be changing dramatically and terribly.

The Gulf beaches over around Destin are breathtakingly beautiful and I can’t imagine that squeaky, bright, white sand spoiled with oil. How is an amberjack sandwich at the Back Porch going to taste with the small of oil in the air? The marshlands…the fishing villages (or what is left of them since Katrina)…the swamps. It really haunts me to imagine that something like this could happen to all that.

I have had some good conversations with people who seem to know what they are doing, and who have some really decent ideas about how this might be stopped. So that gives me hope.

But for the time being, I don’t think anyone should be talking about the “cleanup.” Because until those leaks a mile under the water are stopped, we are not really cleaning up anything…we are simply fighting a holding action…delaying the inevitable, monumental disaster that will follow if the leaks go on.

I’ll make some more calls, and hopefully we’ll both feel like the news is a ahade more hopeful tomorrow. More than ready to talk if you have a moment today…and I suppose both of us could use it.

Regards,
Tom

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