Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama has seemed a tad annoyed when pressed about why things haven’t changed so much in DC yet. Can’t blame him, but then again…change is about more than just what one party wants…
Dear Mr. President,
If the North Koreans ever capture my wife and want state secrets from her, all they’ll have to do is lock her in a room with a computer. In twenty minutes she’ll give up everything she knows, thinks she knows, or might know some day in the future. That’s how crazed she will be by the mere presence of the machine. She is a wonderful, brilliant, caring and educated woman with almost unlimited skills, but dealing with computers, even she would admit, is not one of them.
Whenever the phone rings and she starts the conversation with, “I’m sitting at the computer and I have a problem,” I know that I’m in for a challenge. This morning it was PDF files - their care, feeding, and habitat. Already running late for the office, I stood there trying to explain (from my admittedly rudimentary knowledge) while she stared at the computer as if it were a box full of rabid squirrels.
Anyway, let me state again, that she is one of the most accomplished and intelligent individuals you will ever meet, but like a lot of folks our age, she is a shade daunted by some technology, and there are days when I know she would happily do without it if only the world worked that way.
I think it’s the same with politics. When I was younger, I often chafed at the stubborn resistance to change among the older set. It seemed like a good idea (heck, even a great one) took forever to get a fair hearing, and even longer to be adopted. As I’ve grown older, I’ve remained frustrated by the excruciatingly slow pace of progress at times, but I’ve also come to appreciate why some people step on the brakes while others are stomping on the accelerator. It’s because they’ve seen how dreadful the cost can be if the change is wrong.
I mention this because you’ve seemed a little irritated on the stump lately when you’ve talked about the resistance to change in DC. I understand. When you feel like you have great ideas and you think you can see the brass ring just hanging there, it’s so hard to wait for others to come around to your point of view; and it’s even worse if your poll numbers are tanking and you think it’s really kind of their fault.
But I think it is important to remember: My wife wants to master the computer; she wants to take advantage of all the things it has to offer; but her experience - of lost files, vanished e-mails, mysterious crashes - makes her a little hesitant. I can get mad about that if I want. But that won’t solve the problem. Only patience, help, and respect for her point of view will achieve the kind of change we can both live with.
What are you doing this weekend? I forgot to look over your schedule before I left the office, but I hope it includes something fun. Call if you feel like it; I’ll probably be at the computer.
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