September 14th, 2010
12:24 PM ET

Letters to the President: #603 'Divide and conquer'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/09/13/boehner.gop.taxes/t1larg.jpg caption="In his latest letter to the president, Tom Foreman weighs in on the split between House Minority Leader John Boehner and some of Boehner's GOP colleagues on the issue of tax cuts." width=300 height=169]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Republicans are seeing a little dissent in their ranks, which as I mention in my daily letter could be a ray of hope for the president’s party.

Dear Mr. President,

As you may have noticed, I rarely address the same topic two days in a row. Which is odd, because I had a marvelous dinner of leftover meatloaf, peas, and pasta before I started writing this, and I would be thrilled to have it each evening for the rest of the week. (Btw, do you ever get leftovers? Seems like it’s one of the great pleasures of American life, and yet I can’t imagine you roaming down to the White House kitchen saying, “Where’s the rest of that lo mein?”)

That said I am turning to yesterday’s topic again, because there has been a development which caught my eye and demands immediate attention. So it turns out that just as House Minority Leader John Boehner whipped his signal flags indicating he might be willing to support your plans for the future of the Bush tax cuts, members of his own party started sprinting away from him; declaring that they will certainly not join in any such attempt at bipartisanship, especially not with the big November vote looming.

Related: GOP colleagues seek distance from Boehner on tax issue

Now, I know I wrote yesterday about the wisdom of being magnanimous with enemies whenever they are even slightly less…uh, enemy-like. But today I must add a corollary: When your enemies show a split in the ranks, especially this kind, drive a wedge into it as hard and fast as you can.

I’m talking pure strategy here. I’d say the same to a Republican president. Like a good quarterback, when you see that gap opening up in the defense you need to act quickly to take advantage of it. Let’s look at the advantages of rapidly embracing and encouraging Boehner’s support.

First, if he changes his mind, you’ll make him look like a Waffle King; never a good thing for either party heading into a vote.

Second, you’ll encourage everyone on your side by showing that the opposition is not as monolithic or as disciplined as many Democrats fear.

Third, you’ll look like you are really interested in cooperation, and again…if Republicans back away…they’ll look like they are against it.

Fourth, you’ll inject a little extra confusion and discontent into their ranks.

Like I said, I’m not playing favorites. If a Republican leader asked me what I’d advise for his party right now, it would be much of the same. I mean, it’s not like you and your team have agreed on a clear message for this fall yet, either.

Anyway, my point is, if you hear something tonight while you are rummaging around for leftovers, it is opportunity knocking. And it won’t wait at the door very long.

Call if you have a chance. We started a whole new fact-checking thing which has me considerably busier than usual (which is saying something) but I’m always able to make time to talk.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Mary Oliver New Orleans

    Hi Tom....Once again you are on target.There is a "Ask President Clinton a question"on U-tube...I suggested maybe he could ask President Obama to view the DVD Path To War and
    they could talk over the faults from the point of view of past deceisions that were not the best ie.the Secetary Defense at the time was
    Robert McNamara..and I would like to think that the President does read your letters..you
    are the best for getting the facts and described in a way that all of us can understand...Thanks..from mary..New Orleans,La.

    September 15, 2010 at 1:40 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    YEs Tom good advice. the other bit is those scared democrats who think they are threatened in November should take serious note of Obama's line in the press conference last weekend, and not avoid thier boss when campaigning.
    Dividing what since Jan 2009 has been a very united Republican party even with some wedges is not easy.
    But thats another lesson Dems should learn from Republicans going into an election United we standis best because divided we fall.

    September 15, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  3. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    I hope the Pres and Democrats handle this situation well...even if the Pres has to make decisions that seem hard to swallow right now...at least he should be able to back them up with logical reasons...at least something to keep citizen morale and hopes up whether Democrat or Republican!


    September 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  4. johnsnow75@livecom

    Pres. Obama is keeping America great! But so, was Mr. Bush and Papa Bush at less that guy won the war that's what the America Peoples want!

    September 14, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    All good points Tom. Lets hope Obama and the Democrats take the advice.

    September 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  6. Kim

    No tax for those making $250,000 or less ? That is not the reality of factual economic caluation !Where is Mr. Geithner ? Turn the kitchen faucet on and pray it doesn't catch on fire to fill the ice tray of taxes into freeze.
    Please have your pictures of what an Islamicphobian and xenophobians look like turned into Hillary Clinton by Friday.Class room Universe AG Political Behavorially Nuts dismissed !Beware of ,"Great Crisis and Danger" per Imam Rauf ! Is it a bird ? Noooooo ! Is it plane ? Yeahhhhh and no radical,no Islamic faith goofball on it.Michael Moore ,Imam Rauf,Elanaty,Gamel,Newt and Cusack report to the principle's office. Nathan's George Town play <"Let's Twist Again" on Peace ! Cheers !Cheerful but not pollyannish..."No negotiations,no security,no state." 5 bonus points on your drawing if you can identify who said that in Egypt.

    September 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  7. Ronnie

    Tom – such a sweetheart – you ARE!!

    September 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm |