December 1st, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Letters from the President: #681 'Higher ground'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president finally had his summit with Republicans, sans Slurpees. Oh well.

Dear Mr. President,

Great generals throughout history have known the value of good ground. They know when a battlefield favors their side. They know when it does not. They know when to charge, when to flee, when to dig in, and when to give way. The secret to success is not winning every fight you pick, but picking fights only when you have reason to believe you will win. With that in mind, I read with interest the reports about your latest meeting with the Republicans, the first since they stormed the House during the midterm. And I have to say I am intrigued by your talk about working with them more.

Now, I know you are going to take some serious trash talk from some of your fellow Dems over this - especially those who think you’ve compromised too much already.

But that is, as they say in Paris, “l’eau sous le pont.” (Well, maybe they don’t say that, but it sounds nice.) Right now you have a new battlefield stretching before you, all clean and ready, flags snapping in the breeze, awaiting your first step; and a quiet, subtle maneuver of peace may be the smartest play.

After all, what is the alternative? You could have been a hard case and told the GOP to take a hike; that you don’t care that they won; you’ll fight them tooth and nail over every issue. But what would that get you? Stronger opposition, no hope of cooperation, and oh btw, it would give the Republicans a perfect way to say you are not interested in solutions, only in being a big shot.

When humans play chess and face a potential turning point in a game, they almost always choose the most forceful move. They take an opponent’s piece. They throw a check. They advance. But when a computer plays, it chooses the move that will most quickly lead to checkmate whether or not that moves appears strong. Devoid of emotion, the computer plays to win…not to feel like it is winning. That is a critical difference.

So if your Democratic pals start howling too loudly, you might ask them this: Do you really think we’d get anything done by just continuing a war that neither side can really win? The battlefield does not favor your side right now. But given time to win over a few allies, to restore your promise of bipartisan government, and to bring out some legislation that truly has broad support, you might find the ground may tilt your way once more.

Good luck. Hope it works. But just in case, as I’d say to any president when the opposition comes for tea, count the silverware when they leave...ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Hi Tom,
    I stopped reading the whole of your post once I read the Sans slurpees comment.
    You demean yourself as did AC yesterday and your media company CNN.
    Thats your privilege to do it to yourself or your company.
    But when you demean the Presidentof the United States based on using a funny joke weeks ago, and not only him but both the Republican and Democratic House and Senate Minority an Majority leaders attending a n extremely critical meeting for the people Of the US, digs or sarcasm that undermine the meting importance, are bad journalism.
    Critique the result/ out come is enough demeaning its intent is RIDICULOUS/LIST TO quote Mr Cooper.

    December 2, 2010 at 3:58 am |