December 29th, 2010
11:06 AM ET

Letters to the President: #709 'A Presidential endorsement for Michael Vick?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama was talking to the top brass of the Philadelphia Eagles about some green energy improvements at their stadium, and praised them for giving convicted dog-fighter Michael Vick their starting quarterback slot. Which, as you might expect, has triggered a firestorm of criticism from animal lovers, and today’s letter from me.

Dear Mr. President,

Once again, you’ve confused me. I’m feeling a little lost on this Michael Vick issue. I’m not talking about the hornet’s nest of debate over what he did, whether he should now be forgiven, or any of that. We all agree that dog fighting is barbaric. We all know he was convicted and spent his time in the old Iron Bar Hilton. We all also know that his NFL career is once again soaring as if he never went away. He is a quarterback of rare and special talent, to be sure.

But like I said, let’s put all that aside.

My question: I just don’t understand how or why the President of the United States would be weighing in on this matter. This is not the deficit. This is not the unemployment problem. This is not health care, the immigration debate, or a new plan for dealing with Afghanistan. Those are undeniably presidential level matters, and I would think that you would have your hands more than full with those items. But throwing in your two cents worth on the fortunes of a multi-million dollar athlete who was convicted of a horrendous crime? Why?

I know, I know, you suggested this had something to do with how ex-cons often don’t get a fair shake. You’re right. Often they don’t. But Michael Vick’s life is as much like that of an average convict, as mine is like the Pope’s. Despite the setback brought on by his terrible choices and cruel behavior, Vick is not merely one of those “rich people” you always seem so upset about, but actually one of the uber-rich ones who will enjoy luxuries in his life that the vast ocean of hard-working families can only dream of.

Unlike a typical ex-con who might struggle to get a job as a checker at a supermarket, Vick has been welcomed back into the stratospheric world of fame and fortune occupied by top level professional athletes. Does he have all his endorsement deals back? No. But give it time. And now with a presidential push, even the waiting period has been reduced.

It would be one thing if we were talking about you weighing in on a case where justice was ill-served; where some nameless, faceless criminal who had done his time was being unfairly discriminated against. But this is not that. And this, I’m sorry to say, just looks bad. Michael Vick is doing more than fine without your help or endorsement, while millions of hard-working Americans are fighting every day to get and keep jobs, hold onto their houses, and care for their children…and to be fair, they have committed no crimes at all.

Not trying to wreck on you about this, but like I said, it just doesn’t seem to make sense.

Call if you want to talk it over. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Stan

    Thank you Mr President: Most os us all neeed a second chance to try and get it right in life. I just wish the Republicans would start working with the Democratics to get this Country back in shape. Keep up the good work Mr. President Obama, everyone konows that Bush left you a real mess to deal with!!

    December 29, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  2. jeff richmond

    i personally believe that what president obama did was his personal business. everyone like it or not is entitled to their own opinion and the freedom to speak on it. second chances should be givin to everyone rich or poor. we shouldnt have the right to condem someone because they messed up. we as a country are upset that we dont get the same special treatment as the rich and famous but if we were to put ourselves in their shoes would we be the same way?? you may say no but i doubt that anwser would be honest. i support the president, he should be able to have his freedom of speech without everyone jumping on him because of it. if its something that doesnt matter why is it in the news? just to give him a bad name when there is no cause to do so. leave the man alone. place yourself in his shoes and think of how all of this ignorant nonsence impacts him.

    December 29, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  3. Heather from Michigan

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you, Tom!

    December 29, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
  4. Kathy Greer

    Too bad Obama won't read this. Tom, you told it like it needed to be told. Thank you for that.

    If anyone sees one single ounce of remorse in Michael Vick's eyes, or hears a single ounce of remorse in his voice when he speaks of his crimes, then let me know. So far, all I've seen is that cocky smirk on his face, evil glint in his eyes and a voice without conviction to his, and the Humane $ociety of the United $tates', dog fighting cause. Vick is all about the money, just like the H$U$ that supports him.

    Even though Vick got off easy in comparison to what he did to his dogs, at least the Vikings had him limping off the field with his tail between his legs Tuesday night. Let's hope that continues during the play offs. We don't need anymore Vick. The country has had enough.

    December 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  5. Christine Corelli

    I have been an Obama advocate from Day One. I voted for you. I admired you. Here's my message to you. Yes, Mr. President, everyone deserves a 2nd chance. Michael Vick got his 2nd chance from the NFL. Shows their lack of values. But you, siding with him to be able to have a "pet?" Why, so that his press agents can take pictures of him with the dog, and he can get endorsements.

    You have just lost my vote, and the votes of thousands of decent people.
    I am appalled, disappointed, and cannot for the life of me figure out why you did that. Is it to win the admiration of the NFL? Everyone I know is so turned off. Disappointed in Chicago. No vote.

    December 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  6. steve sider

    Thank you for saying what it seems like no one is willing to say

    December 29, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  7. Lilian


    Thank you for posting your letter. Its incredible how people and even wortst the President of the United States of Americasupports this criminal who does not deserve any second chances.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  8. KathyH

    Thank you for wording your letter so well. My feelings are such that I could not have been civil in my remarks. Even right now I have to stop myself from listing my thoughts on Vick, the NFL, the Eagles, and now the president. So again thank you.

    December 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  9. Edith Anderies

    This is the first time I have ever submitted a comment on anything. But, I am so thankful you wrote this in such an intelligent and respectful manner. It saddens me that our President would waste one second on such an unworthy subject. Thank you.

    December 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  10. Mike

    I'm an Obama supporter... His comment was hurtful to everyone...

    December 29, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  11. Nancy

    Bill Burton, a press secretary for the Obama administration, said the president “condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of” but believes felons who have served their time “should have an opportunity to contribute to society again.”

    And how is being showered with fame and money for playing a game contributing to society? Puh-lease!

    December 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  12. brian

    You ask the right questions. The economy is a cesspool, people are losing their life's dreams, millions are impacted. Yet, Mr. Obama finds time to chat with the owner of the Eagles, another "poor" soul. Confused? I'm not. The president has no intention of walking in anyone else's shoes. Never has, never will!

    December 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  13. Wes Lassiter

    Christian-execution this does not mix or compute. I wonder where the line is drawn with animal cruelty? Is it fair to say that someone who is a big game fisherman who tortures large fish to watch them jump and fight for their lives shouldn't be put in jail as well. Where is the line drawn when it pertains to animals large or small warm blooded or cold blooded.

    How many dogs are being saved now as a result of Vicks dog fighting ring? These are all questions that need exploration.

    Of all the large fish I killed as a big game fisherman, I am equally ashamed of my conduct. Like Vick, I was raised in a society where it was encouraged. I have forgiven myself but not forgotten. Somehow I believe Mr. Vick has not forgotten either.

    I don't think I need to be executed but the crime is the same. Maybe Mr. Carleson's outburst will bring awareness to other forms of animal cruelty as well.

    I wonder why Ernest Heminway killed himself? It tends to make you wonder. Please Mr. Carleson if you are going to say something like that, don't go Marin fishing for sport when you take your winter vacation.

    December 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  14. Dahlia

    It was a private call! How do you call the Eagles owner and not mention Vick?? President Obama didn't make the comment, American football fan Obama weighted in, and has an opinion about Vick's, as do millions of fans and non fans alike. Why can't he say something for 2 secs without it being a major controversy?? Heck he probably thought he was making small talk.
    Why are ppl outraged 24/7 over the smallest stuff?????!!

    December 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  15. leon livingston

    And why, just why can't the President comment/share his opinion on Michael Vick? Because he is the President? Or do you mant to be "there" so you feel jutified by "wrecking on" the President? He welcomed the LA Lakers, you have no comment there; Or are you so jealous of Michael Vick? Don't take out your frustrations on the President because of this. He didn't go to Philly to endorse Vick, but to speak of something else. Don't YOU have anything else to do but criticize? Why not just say YOU don't believe in giving people second chances and do away with your petty jealousies? Man, find something else to do.

    December 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  16. marc fitzgerald

    Well said !

    December 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  17. Davidh

    Tom: Thank you!

    obama: get over your self-elevated opinions and do your job.

    December 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  18. Diane Donlon

    Thank goodness I don't have to call Mr. Obama our President! Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family have personally rescued and fostered over 100 animals since he took office in Ottawa. Did Vick give those poor dogs that he tortured and killed a 2nd chance? Obama, you should be ashamed of yourself and I hope the American people will not give you a 2nd chance!

    December 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  19. Dianne Wood

    Thank you!!!

    December 29, 2010 at 11:54 am |