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August 4th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letter to the President #562: 'Can real leaders get elected anymore?'

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama never writes to me. He never calls either. I suppose he is busy, but it’s not like I’m just sitting around rolling Play-Doh, and I find time to write every day!

Dear Mr. President,

Whilst relaxing here alongside the river in New Orleans over a plate of hot and sugary beignets (and frankly, should there ever be any other kind?) a co-worker asked me a relatively simple and yet devilish question: Why do you think government has become so ineffective and disliked these days?

See what I mean? It’s like the question of why Seinfeld’s girlfriends on his TV show were generally not so good looking. I mean other than Terry Hatcher and Kristin Davis, of course. Seems like an easy question until you try to answer it.

But let’s break it down. The second part of the political question, I submit, is easy. Government is disliked because it is ineffective. Too many of the DC crowd have mistaken politics for policy. This isn’t a matter of government doing too much or too little. It’s more a case of pols on both sides just stumbling around seemingly incapable of announcing a plan, developing that plan, and putting it into place with any real efficiency or efficacy.

But why is that? Well, as we sat there listening to the distant ships on the river and looking across at Jackson Square, I pondered that question a bit more. And trust me, New Orleans is a great city in which to sit and ponder.

This is what I came up with: The skills required to get elected these days at many levels of government, but especially at the national level, have diverged further and further from the skills required to be an effective leader once in office. I think it is that simple. So the people who know how to lead, too often can’t get elected. And the people who know how to get elected, frequently have no idea how to lead. This is, btw, the same problem we have in the private sector. This is why so many workers labor under managers who seemingly have no concept of what the company in question even does. Or in other words, it’s why so many of us wind up working for idiots.

It’s not that good people can’t get elected. But it does seem increasingly rare. I mention all of this because day by day I am hearing more talk about the fall elections and people weighing what the consequences will be for you and your party. And whether your team fares well or poorly, I suppose if my theory is right, it may not matter much. Because which ever party gains the most, you’ll get a whole new crop of winners…and I think what you need, are leaders.

Ahh, if you were here we could walk and talk through the Quarter all night. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Oh, and guess what! Once again my cell phone has crashed! Can you believe it? I was talking on it, everything was fine…texting, taking pictures…then with no warning whatsoever it just stopped working. Dead as disco. So uh…don’t even try to call until I get it fixed, or replaced, or I toss it into the Mississippi, or something…sheesh!

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. lisa pfohl

    It doesnt seem to matter what topic good or bad this President talks about he seems to always play the blame game. I thought he was all about change and looking to the future,but he is anything but.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:31 am |