August 12th, 2010
09:51 AM ET

Letter to the President #570: 'With frenemies like these...'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/12/art.gibbswh.gi.jpg caption="So I saw that your press guy, Robert Gibbs, lit into the hard core liberals in your party for sniping at you too much... Frankly I’ve wondered why it has taken so long. " width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, has taken some heat for lashing out at liberal critics of the Administration. But hey, as I note in my daily letter to the president, what are friends for if you can’t use them?

Dear Mr. President,

So I saw that your press guy, Robert Gibbs, lit into the hard core liberals in your party for sniping at you too much. Dicey business, this taking a swing at your friends, especially here in DC where one can never have too many of them. But I must say I was not surprised by his move, and frankly I’ve wondered why it has taken so long.

I know you guys are backing and filling a little now to keep them from surrounding the White House with a heavily armed mob; and by heavily armed I mean of course, wearing Birkenstocks and waving petitions. Ha!

But seriously, in my ongoing quest to send advice your way (hey, you asked for it,) I have come up with three reasons why you (or indeed, any president… except maybe Taft…) should not worry too much about dissent in the party’s base.

1) The base always dissents. For crying out loud, the obvious fact so often overlooked by all the DC punditeers, is that the Far Left and the Far Right are defined by being out of step with the rest of America. If they represented the broadest spectrum of average American beliefs, they would be called “average” or “the middle” or “those people from Missouri.” They are instead, by nature, extremists. Gibbs was right when he said the left will never be happy. Just like the right will never be happy. The America that each side wants can only exist if the other side utterly ceases to be, and while we’re at it, they don’t much care for middle. But if the far wings expect the rest of the populace to spontaneously combust, or march into the sea, or jump the border to take all the jobs in Mexico; well, that’s not going to happen.

2) The extreme wings of either party do not want what is best for the country. Now, I’ll couch this one a bit: They certainly think that what they want would be best for the country, but more often it smacks of what would be best for their party. The logic goes like this for both sides: We are smarter, better people than the opposition, the middle, and frankly anyone else who is not us. Unless we win and hold control of the government, then we can’t bless the nation with our brilliance. Therefore, whatever it takes to seize control is fair and good in the long run, even if it contravenes the wishes or best interests of the nation in the short term.

3) Where else are they going to go? The truth is, no matter how mad the liberals get, they don’t have any other real choice. They vote for the Democrats or they don’t much matter. At least that’s how it has been. The same holds true with conservatives and the Republicans. Oh sure, you get the occasional outliers, like the Tea Party showing up and making it at least theoretically possible that a viable alternative might be on the table. But even your worst liberal critic knows as of this moment, the Democrats are really his only chance for enacting policies he might like, as imperfect as they may be. Now maybe the hard core lefties will, like the hard cores righties, drum up more alternatives to the Democratic party candidates, or maybe they’ll just grow so frustrated that they decide to stay home and not vote any more, either of which could pose problems for you. Still, remember, a lot of them swore loud and long that they would do just that when Hillary Clinton was pushed out of the race. But they didn’t..

The simple truth is, when either of the extreme wings of American politics starts screaming too loudly, it is usually because the president is focusing more time and attention on the moderate middle; which, btw, is where the greatest mass of Americans place themselves on the political spectrum. It’s also the philosophical position from which you promised to lead when you were campaigning. And to be fair, in a democracy, how wrong can it be to go with policies that most reflect the views of most Americans, even if the hard left or right is unhappy? Of the people, by the people… remember that?

I hope your family is having a nice summer. I feel as if I have hardly even asked about them of late, and I apologize. Are you still planning on a Gulf run later in the year, or did I miss something? Maybe I can bring my family down and we can all go fishing!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Ronnie

    Hey it's me again – I copied info/opinion from the NYTimes for your enlightenment: Deep Throat was right "Follow the Money"

    "In turning on fellow Democrats in his speech, Mr. Rangel drew the curtain back on the money machine that so often trumps ethics in members’ frantic campaigning for re-election. “I’m the guy who was raising money in Republican districts to get you here,” Mr. Rangel declared, lambasting colleagues as ingrates.

    Republicans are already tracking the money Mr. Rangel shared with Democratic candidates from his cornucopia of campaign funds. Dozens returned the money as his problems deepened. Forty-six Democrats who did not are being attacked in Republican ads for keeping “dirty” donations. It is encouraging to find lawmakers suggesting that their endless begging for campaign money might be an Achilles’ heel. "

    August 12, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  2. Ronnie

    Tom – this is the first time you've brought tears to my eyes...healing tears – I've been screaming at some of these "liberals" who have been hounding him with their lip stuck out like so many spoiled kids – and he IS to the right of me – but then he always was – I have worked as a congressional aide – I KNOW from experience how much pressure politicians have to deal with – the prime/outstanding pressure is financial...and yes – they frequently give in – maybe just a little to that pressure – the best thing we could do is insist on campaign finance reform – take money out of the equation and money will quit ruling the country...and perhaps we could get past this intolerable income inequality that persists and gets worse in this country.
    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for your words today.

    August 12, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  3. zehfilardo


    O believe that only Nicolo Machiavelli would be able to beat you...

    August 12, 2010 at 10:47 am |