August 15th, 2010
09:02 AM ET

Letters to the President #573: “A book and its cover”

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama has to rely on a lot of other folks to put his policies into place. It’s kind of like moving when you’re young and you call some friends to help carry the boxes. But, in lawmaking, like moving, you’ve got to be a little careful whose company you keep. Especially if one of them might start saying things to annoy the neighbors.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/11/art.reid9.gi.jpg]

Dear Mr. President,

Senate Majority Leader, and your fellow Democrat, Harry Reid said something last week that I think was ill-considered at best, and insulting at worst. I know that Republicans have jumped all over him on this matter, and I’m not taking their side, but I’ve heard this sort of thing before from people in both political parties and it really bugs me. (Not quite like the bed bug infestation they are fighting in New York, but still.)

In case you missed it, Sen. Reid said “I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.”

Really? To me, a cornerstone of respect for the rights and opinions of others is recognizing that their ideas are determined by more than their skin color or heritage. It’s just that simple. Imagine how demeaning it would be to say, “I don’t see how any woman could be against abortion rights.” Or “I don’t see how any gay or lesbian could have supported John McCain.” Or “I don’t see how any African American person could have voted against President Obama.” I can understand that people who have strong beliefs may find it puzzling that others disagree with them. But just looking at someone’s family tree and pronouncing that person all boxed up based on your expectations is unfair.

In each case, the statements above are inflammatory precisely because they say this one part of a person, his or her skin color, or gender, or sexual identity, should trump all of that soul’s other thoughts; they should be simply automatons, swinging on the issues exactly and 100 percent as expected. Sure, that would be convenient for Washington, but if that’s the way it’s going to be, why have people vote at all? Let’s just look at the Census, run the numbers, and call it done. “But wait, I live in a largely Republican area, I’m white, I make plenty of money and I want to vote Democratic!’ “Sorry, pal. As the district goes, so go you.”

On top of that, hasn’t the whole struggle for equality in this country, by any number of groups, also been a fight against stereotypes?

Again, I’m not laying this all at the door of the gentleman from Nevada. I’m just saying politicians and activists of all types underestimate how much they can infuriate all of us, by making such sweeping statements about any of us. So if you get a moment, you might want to give him a call. But not very late because he’s getting kind of old, and I don’t see how a man his age could be up past nine o’clock. Ha! See what I mean?

Hope you make it home from the quick vacation in the Gulf well. Did you have some good seafood? “It’s the best, Jerry, the best!”


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Sorry Tom, its a sort of constitutional thing called freedom of speech. Or I can quote The philospher Rousseau, who wrote:-
    "I may disagree with eveything you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it."
    Then unfortunately, I have to say every day there are so many things said by Media, politicians and others in America which show gross insensitivity, a complete lack of la Joie de vie, any kind of esprit de corp or civility. Wish you were not " correct" but you are flogging the proverbial dead horse, it is part of the American way.

    August 16, 2010 at 1:59 am |