Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama is lambasting the Republicans on the campaign trail as he tries to shore up his Democrats. But playing with fire can be risky.
Dear Mr. President,
There is a saying I toss out whenever I see someone doing something for short term gain that might make for long term losses: Don’t burn the furniture to heat the room. By that, I mean don’t resort to drastic, irreversible actions unless you really have to, and as I’ve watched your speeches lately, I’ve sort of wondered if you’re putting chairs up the chimney.
Faced with the prospects of potentially big losses in November, you are understandably trying to rally the base of your party. That’s smart politics. But for a president who seems so eager to embrace new ideas, you are relying rather heavily on an old message: Vote for us because we’re not the other side.
Sure, that thrills the partisans, but I’m not sure it does anything for the moderates who gave you the edge you needed to take the Oval Office. And if you further alienate them, I’m not sure how much a few saved seats in Congress are going to mean to your overall agenda.
Remember, as much as anything else, you won because you promised a new atmosphere in DC; you pledged to find a way to overcome all the deep divisions and get folks working together again. I know it’s been tough. I know the Republicans have made it nearly impossible on their side, and your Democrats have been less than encouraging about the idea too. I also know that plenty of the true believers in your party would call you crazy to even try reaching out again.
But I’m pretty sure voters in general will still embrace that idea if you’ll just give it another honest whirl. As it is, vilifying the other side just gives your opponents more ammunition, more chances to say, “Look, he’s just like any other politician.” That is a much harder argument to make against you, if your hand is ever outstretched for cooperation.
So while it may make members of your choir feel all warm for you to toss the furniture of bipartisanship onto the fire to fight off the autumn chill, I suspect you should remind them, that this could be a very long, cold winter. And after the furniture is gone, it could still be cold. And you may not have anywhere left to sit.
Hope all is well. Call if you can.
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