August 9th, 2010
09:22 AM ET

Letter to the President #567: 'Just keep running'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/08/09/obama.education/smlvid.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="Foreman: I say to you what I would say to any president, or anybody involved in a long struggle: Don’t give up. Muster your strength." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: The President continues to struggle with low approval ratings which are becoming a somewhat more serious matter as the fall elections get closer. But patience is a virtue even in politics where virtues in general are in short supply. Thank goodness he has an overabundant supply of my letters to remind him of that.

Dear Mr. President,

Did you happen to see Tiger’s meltdown over the weekend? It’s amazing to see someone with so much talent fare so badly at something at which he is normally great. But of course, he must have a lot on his mind. And we all have our up times and our down times and there is nothing to do when the downs come except soldier on. (And, btw, I would like to point out that his worst round is so much better than my best that I shant heave too many aspersions his way, even if he flings an iron or two…or a two iron…at me.)

The virtue of soldiering on when times get tough, I think is underrated these days. We’ve become a bit too enamored of the idea of someone who wins all the time, or who is sitting on top of the heap, and I think we have lost some of our respect for people who just hang in there. That’s a shame. Because for my money, the person who stands firm against adversity, who takes a beating but sticks to his or her principles, is more to be admired than a mere victor any day.

Things worth fighting for often take a long time, and anyone who expects to be in first place eating grapes the whole time is crazy.

I’ve never been particularly good at any sports except running. (Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been solidly adequate and I’m still pretty sure I could punk you on a basketball court, but that’s beside the point.) But I did have one thing that proved a decisive factor in many contests: Stamina. I could simply keep playing hard a lot longer than a lot of my opponents in many games. So while they might take a strong, early lead, my goal was often just to drag the game out as long as possible knowing that I would continue playing at about the same level while they flagged. Many times I racked up late points to steal a win, in tennis, one on one basketball, pond hockey. It was kind of my trademark. Well, that and being referred to as Tinkerbell.

Sometimes, in fact, I would even speed up the tempo of…oh say, a tennis match…after we had already played for two hours in the hot sun, purely because I knew it would hasten and deepen the exhaustion of my opponent, allowing me to take game after game. It was helpful that so many guys have such massive egos they did not want to admit they were tired and would gamely hang in there; a tendency I would encourage by periodically stopped and saying in a cheerful voice, “Are you ok? I mean, if you need to stop or take a rest, we can.” Ha! My point is, I know you are going through a tough stretch. Your numbers are a wreck. You’re party is facing a very tough contest this fall. And you don’t look too happy a lot of days.

But I say to you what I would say to any president, or anybody involved in a long struggle: Don’t give up. Muster your strength. Reconsider the length of the course and realize that you still have plenty of time in which to work. Like the tortoise, plod on. It’s not always glamorous and contrary to popular myth, it does not always win, but it gives you a much better chance than just burning out all your energy and hope in the summer heat and then collapsing by the side of the track.

I mentioned to you that I have stepped up my training runs. Well, this past week I ended up with 40 miles in the running diary. To be honest, I walked about six of those, but hey I kept going! If you want to join me one day, just give a call. I’m tending to go in the early morning, so you should be free, right? I mean, Biden’s not even up then! Ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    "Just keep running, just keep running, just keep running"...everyone join me! I have found it most helpful for me when I have a buddy running alongside with me encouraging me that the end of the race is really over this last hill, that is the 10th one or so.

    We all need support from time to time and as much I enjoy your letters of critique to Mr. Pres., (I really do!) a little running support never hurt...but only a little just to keep him afloat and going of course!

    Hope you are well! Walking or running...it's still consistent!

    Soldiering on,

    August 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  2. Joycelyn146

    Thanks for the letter. This is proving to be a long run for all Americans.

    August 9, 2010 at 10:44 am |