November 7th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #657 'In denial'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is no doubt using this Sunday to reassess his way forward following this past week’s brutal election. At least he has the comfort of knowing my letters to the White House will continue just as always.

Dear Mr. President,

A lot of folks think that you are in denial about what happened in the election this past week, that you somehow can’t fully accept that this was a repudiation of your policies by the voters. Hey, I understand. I still can’t fully accept that Bonnie Bengster turned down my invitation to the 7th grade spring dance.

Still, you and your fellow Dems made quite a deal of saying that it was a “communication” problem, suggesting that the only reason people voted against your side was because they didn’t understand what you’ve done. I suspect that was mainly spin. I’m not convinced you are really that cavalierly writing off the train that rolled over you as a figment of the voters’ collective imagination. I think you know precisely what happened and it aches like a broken bone.

No one likes being told that his ideas were not good ones. And let’s face it: In many of the matters you are dealing with we won’t really know if your approach was wrong or right for many years. So some voters think your approach is brilliant, some think it is absurd, and who the heck knows where the truth lies? So, even if you were in denial, again, I can understand.

Being right - or thinking you are right - is tricky business. The leader who chooses a bold course and triumphs is hailed as a genius. The one who chooses a bold course and fails is damned as an idiot. Confidence and foolhardiness walk hand-in-hand.

I was talking to a professor who wrote a book some years ago about the rising power of independent voters. Much of what he theorized has come to pass. But at the time, no one knew that, so he took some criticism. If he’d been wrong, I suppose his critics would smugly congratulate themselves now. As it is, almost no one has bothered to even notice that he was right.

My point is denial of our failings is a bad thing. We have to fully admit and understand our mistakes if we want to learn from them. But sometimes standing firm against a torrent of public disapproval is also important, especially if we believe we are right.

After all, if you simply give up on your ideas because they become unpopular, absent objective proof that they are wrong, then you are really in denial…of yourself.

Hope you have a nice Sunday.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Sam Brandom

    Your letter seems to me to share the views of most people. It's disconcerting to me for our president is in denial of himself.


    November 7, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  2. blkbird77


    November 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  3. Ronnie

    (I don't know if you received this comment – so I'mm simply posting again)
    Such wise words. I hope someone is whispering these words to the president this morning...
    If he doesn't get these words – well I have – and I needed them..so thank you

    November 7, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  4. Kathy

    Excellent post.

    November 7, 2010 at 9:13 am |