June 5th, 2010
08:04 AM ET

Letters to the President #502: Reservations about dinner

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/06/02/oil.spill.bp.apology/story.tony.hayward.afp.gi.jpg
caption="BP CEO Tony Hayward was spotted out sharing dinner with Admiral Thad Allen." width=300 height=169]Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama continues to deal with oil, and a daily letter from me.

Dear Mr. President,

One of the weirder moments to occur this week, as we all dredged through Oil Watch: America Held Slippery was the story related by CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, James Carville. Seems the every-biting-bald-one strolled into a restaurant in New Orleans and spotted your chief officer on the scene, Admiral Thad Allen, sharing dinner with the head of BP, Tony Hayward. The fact that James did not chase the pair through the kitchen wielding a sharpened breadstick is a measure of impressive restraint, considering his outrage over this mess.

But that aside, the mere presence of these two key players sharing tea and pork chops as if they were noshing at Wimbledon is, as they say in the movies, “bad form, Pan!”

I know both of these men need to eat. I suppose we should applaud their willingness to continue their discussions even in lieu of a full-on lunch break. But it just looks bad. It looks like precisely what so many voters fear; political players, Democratic and Republican, are so deeply in bed with the large money folks, like BP, that they simply find it impossible to really play tough.

In the real world, people caught up in a brutal, life and death struggle with so much at stake, and supposedly potential criminal charges in the works, would find it unseemly at best, unethical at worst, to sit down at a restaurant and break bread like pals.

It’s not that the relationship has to be antagonistic, but it certainly can’t look so chummy.

Of course, we who are unwashed by the righteous and right-oily waters of Capitol Hill, know what you political types think of us. We are fodder for your electoral cannons, breeding stock for great screaming herds of babies to be kissed, and occasionally wallet wielders who toss hundred dollar bills into the political world’s ceaseless parade of passed hats. We are to be courted, cajoled, manipulated, and manhandled, but not taken seriously, especially when it comes to the proper way to conduct the big business of big government.

But politics is at least 50 percent perception, and the perception of two big power players (one, presumably there to police the other) sitting around in the restaurant might be hard to swallow by folks who fear they are about to lose their daily bread. Look at it this way: If you saw Al Capone and Elliot Ness sharing a game of bocce ball in the park while the grand jury was out, wouldn’t that make you a shade skeptical of their true relationship?

I’m just saying a note to your incident commander about conduct and appearances might be in order. Call if you can. I’m around this weekend.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Scott Sloane

    Dear CNN,

    Please ask Admiral Allen about his dinner with Tony Hayward. He is supposed to be regualting and overseeing the cleanup not having dinner with the enemy. This relationship is to cosy and looks bad.

    June 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  2. Bamboozler

    No WONDER Obama dragged his feet! Look the oil companies are sooooo bad per Obama! Why so he can grow the give government! Obama needs to look in the mirror when it comes to evil! The government is to BIG and will FAIL! As it currently scoffs GODS wisdom..

    June 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Augsbee

    Thank you James Carville and yes I admire his self control. Those two should have never had dinner together, unacceptable, no wonder things are as bad as they are.

    June 5, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  4. valerie

    I encourage everyone to write the white house. This was a letter that I wrote to the president...
    Dear Mr. President,
    I have spent the last hour reviewing the whitehouse.gov web site for some information about what our government is doing to clean up the Gulf oil spill. I found the site filled with words such as "access the situation", "monitor and support" and "collect and review. With all due respect Mr. President collecting, monitoring, reviewing, and accessing is not stopping the oil or repairing the damage already done. The Gulf Coast is in a state of emergency and as a resident of this area I implore you to do something more. PLEASE save our beautiful Gulf Coast.
    A Gulf Coast Resident

    June 5, 2010 at 10:18 am |