November 3rd, 2010
10:33 AM ET

Letters to the President #653: 'Change partners...keep dancing'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://cnnpoliticalticker.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/t1larg-obama-speech-gi-file.jpg?w=640 width=300 height=169]Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s party did not enjoy a good night in the midterm election, which is an understatement. The overstatement is in my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

My wife and I went to a festival once in the small town of Chauvin, Louisiana, and under a blistering sun we joined a storm of people dancing a country two-step to thundering zydeco. Five minutes later, thrashed by elbows and knees, we stumbled from the floor sweating like stevedores. As we collapsed into folding chairs, an old Cajun twirled past, shot us a grin, and called out, “It ain’t as easy as it looks, is it cher?”

Neither is change.

You and your Democrats learned that the hard way this week. For those members of Congress who danced in to the beat of Obamania in 2008, it had to be the shortest two years of their lives; going from hello to goodbye on the same fist bump; from “Let’s measure for curtains” to “Hey Chuck, get some cardboard boxes and call Ryder about a truck, will ya? We’re headed home.”

They clearly wanted things to change, so you can’t blame them for lack of effort. But voters are interested in results, not passing out gold stars for trying. And the timeline for those results has been shrinking.

Maybe that’s a measure of how we are as people these days. We want our coffee fast, our information faster, and every new trend is last week’s news as soon as we notice it. But then, in all fairness, we’ve been sold the promise of quick change by you and your political pals on both sides of the aisle. Oh sure, once someone is elected, he or she invariably tries to retreat from the glowing promises of the trail, but by then the idea is already out there that change will be, if not immediate, at least not far down the road.

So what do you do now? Good question. I don’t have all the answers (and quite possibly I don’t have any) but I’ve always thought that revolutionary leaders have short shelf lives. Their revolutions must produce real results quickly. Those results don’t have to be earth-shattering, but they have to be something that people can grab, or their followers will put down their flags, go home for dinner, and the revolution is over.


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