October 9th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #628 'Resistant to change'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

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.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Elliot B. Riebman

    Dear Mr. President Barak Obama,
    You are doing a fine job,with health care,education,foreign policy,as well as being well rounded in all corners.The media loves you and that is all youneed,they havn't proven you wrong yet Mr. President.Keep up the good work,and I will do my very best to keep you in office.I tell everyone that I come in contact with that you will go down in history,as the very best President has ever seen
    All Of My Very Best Always,
    Elliot B. Riebman
    Boynton Beach,Florida

    October 10, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  2. maria gold lippman

    why haven't the democrats focused on the 8 republican yrs that brought us to this economic mess. Additionally, when the Social Security and Medicare programs were introduced – where were the Republicans??? focused on 'too much spending"?? – without these programs don't the seniors realize that we would all be on welfare or at the mercy of relatives to take us in.

    If the Republicans get back in- God help us, the public memory is very short – they got us into two wars and trillions in debt – and into the present economic situation

    October 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When computers were first introduced on my job, I caught on quickly while some fellow workers started crying because they couldn't get it and feared losing their jobs. I helped them learn and encouraged them, once they caught on they stabbed me in the back. When updates were installed, they found themselves crying again because they couldn't get it. I could have refused to help them, but I didn't. When Americans needed help the GOP turned their backs and they will do it again.

    October 9, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  4. Tim Gibson

    Personally I feel the problem with Washington is that the call is coming from inside the house. There is plenty of blame to go around for everyone, yet when our house speaker and I use that term loosely believes that unemployment and food stamps are the biggest booste to our economy, well then we are in serious trouble.

    As we fall further into decline and yes we are falling further into decline I am amazed at the direction our leadership is hell bent on going, pedal to the metal. All I can say at this point is thank God for seat belts, we are going to need them.

    October 9, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  5. Karen Tan

    The problem is the pres is running out time. Remember the mid Nov election? Only if he can ignore it and thrive to do the right thing in the right way...

    October 9, 2010 at 11:34 am |