June 17th, 2010
09:16 AM ET

Letter to the President #514: 'OK. I give up... at least for now'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/06/16/angry.black.man.obama/storyobama.gi.jpg caption="Foreman: Although people may be exhausted by the story and the apparent impossibility of anyone to produce any substantial progress, that does not mean they have accepted the fact." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama met with officials from BP to discuss the oil spill. I met with a guy from my cell phone server to discuss a problem with my phone. Want to bet who gets some clear answers sooner?

Dear Mr. President,

Have you followed any of the World Cup action amid all of your headaches in recent weeks? If so, perhaps you’ve picked up an extra throbbing in the temples courtesy of those silly plastic horns the fans in South Africa blow incessantly during the games. I haven’t heard so much annoying whining since the last time I watched The View.

The problem is not so much the noise itself, although it is far from pleasant, but rather from the water-torture-like relentlessness of it; the pounding, buzzing, enervating drone that rises and falls as if a massive swarm of irradiated hornets have infested the stadium. The blue team scores! Drone. The red team counters! Drone. Yellow card! Drone. Red card! Drone. Nothing! Drone. It’s like dinner with some crazy old uncle who has fixated on fluoride in the water as a form of conspiracy.

All of this, interestingly and sadly enough, seems to be about the same effect many of us are getting from all the oil spill news now. After weeks of growing outrage and demands for real action, I felt myself lapsing into a kind of news-coma as I tried to follow the results of your meeting with the BP bosses; or the CES’s as I like to call them… Chief Executive Spillers. “We’re going to demand accountability.” Drone. “We’ll make them pay.” Drone. “What is the flow rate? Not sure.” Drone.

The feeling has come over me gradually, like carbon monoxide poisoning; odorless, colorless, but deadly. One minute I was all lathered up over the possibly very long term damage to my beloved coast, the next I was calculating the damage, and the next I was thinking about Philly cheese steaks and trying to remember what I was talking about just minutes ago. I think it is kind of like compassion fatigue; we worry about these things around the clock as long as we can, media types (like me) whip the frenzy, and eventually we just collapse intellectually and emotionally from the sheer weight of it all, and start feeling as if there is simply nothing to do but weep.

On the surface, this kind of ennui may seem promising to you politicos and the big biz types as well. After all, when the public grows weary of such a matter, it usually means a general lessening of the heat on those in charge… aka, you. But since it is most often part of my purpose to offer advice in letters, let me extend a caution to you about this seeming lull in the storm.

Although people may be exhausted by the story and the apparent impossibility of anyone to produce any substantial progress, that does not mean they have accepted the fact. Truth be told, I suspect as soon as people sniff the least possibility of holding people accountable for what has happened, whether that means throwing some corporate types into jail or some pols out of office, I think they will roar to life… taking revenge for both the ruining of the Gulf, and this summer torture of being asked day in and out to care about a critical issue, and yet finding the folks who might do something about it apparently unable to do much at all.

Anyway, I suppose I will write about some other topics for a few days, just to give myself and you a break. I mean, after all, what else can one say at this point? It’s a mess and despite all the words from you and BP, it just doesn’t seem to be getting much better.

Call if you get a moment. I’m still off, but always happy to chat.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Alex Valiao

    Hah! Everytime I say I give up, I always find myself having a go at it again. Shall I say, you have a coffee addiction that won't let up?? I suppose I will read your next letter tomorrow. Great day.

    June 17, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  2. Augsbee

    Tom, great, great letter. I wish we could collect money to help these victims out, I feel so bad for them. You know they won't be seeing any money any time soon from those $20 billion, it will be weeks for processing applications, providing proof, etc... we all know how slow those federal government offices work. Of course, Smart BP washed it hands from having to deal with the victims, they passed it on to the federal government. I'm grateful to all those volunteers taking care of our wildlife. Keep up the good writing.

    June 17, 2010 at 9:53 am |