October 2nd, 2010
01:00 PM ET

Letters to the President: #621 'New kid in town'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s Chief of Staff has gone back to Chicago to try his hand at running for mayor, while I remain here still trying my hand at being a presidential pen pal…every day.

Dear Mr. President,

Sorry to hear that Rahm Emanuel has said goodbye, packed up his boxes, and headed back to the City of Broad Shoulders. I don’t mean that I am personally sad about it, because after all, I don’t work with him. I’m just saying I’m sorry for you because I know how hard it is to lose a co-worker who has been through the fire with you.

For a TV reporter, the closest equivalent is either a favorite photographer, or, at the network level where I’ve been for 20 years, a producer. I have an excellent producer now named Katie who works very hard, makes a lot of my wilder ideas possible, and shows endless patience with my equally endless nattering about everything. Sure, she has a cruel tendency to order me back into my office every time I get a good game of indoor-pop-bottle soccer going; and she drives too fast. But you can’t have everything, can you?

So how are you feeling about the new guy, Pete Rouse? My understanding is that he is something of a polar opposite of Rahm, who as you know was rather on the hard-charging side. (In the same sense that LeBron James is a little inclined to driving to the net.) Maybe that will be a good change. We’ll see.

I know this: Whenever I’m looking to assemble a team of folks for any task, I look not only at their individual talents, but also at the whole. Rock music is full of examples of folks assembling “super groups” of great players who ultimately could not play with each other and made lousy music. While in other cases, relatively mediocre players sometimes have come together in a dynamic way to achieve greatness.

That’s what I’d watch for. No matter how much faith you have in this new guy and no matter how closely he meshes with you, make sure he is also inspiring confidence, loyalty, and dedication in the rest of the team. Because a good team will defeat one or two good players any day, and you have enough challenges ahead without a house divided.

Good luck and call if you want me to, you know, like look over the design for his business cards or anything.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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