January 18th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Letters to the President: #729 'A win is a win…sometimes'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president and his party passed historic health care reforms, but are being pressed into a new battle to convince the public that their win was really a win for us all. That’s what I’m writing about in today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

So after some delays, it seems as if the House Republicans are finally ready to take the hack saw to your health care reform program with an eye toward, if not outright repealing it, at least sending it to the emergency room. Politically it looks like their chances of producing any real result are about as slim of my hopes for being called up to play in the Super Bowl. Even if they can drive it through the House, your party still has enough numbers in the Senate to beat back the revolution.

But, just as it is with so much in Washington, that doesn’t mean it might not hurt. Truth be told, if they make a hard enough stand on this issue they could not only force you to re-defend your victory, but they could also build up a belief among at least some voters that health care reform was never such a good idea to begin with.

President Carter told me years ago how much damage such movements can cause. He was, despite all the naysayers who have attacked his record over all these years, remarkably successful in passing legislation. “So why do people not realize that?” I asked him once at his library in Atlanta. He said something like, “We took a tremendous amount of criticism, and suffered a lot of attacks to win those victories. We endured months of negative headlines and then saw only a few days of reports on how we had triumphed. So long after they had forgotten the victory, voters remembered the controversy and laid it at our door.”

See what I am driving at? You face a double threat right now. You have to fight off the challenge itself which, as I said, should prove easy enough. But you must also truly create the sense that it is frivolous and does not represent the will of the American people. That is much harder, because in fairness there are still a great many voters who have doubts about how health care reform is going to play out for them.

You won the battle to pass this legislation. Now, you must win the more important battle of making voters believe it was worthwhile. Because in my experience, any law is vulnerable if too many doubt its efficacy. Hope your week is going well, and you are feeling healthy. And how about your Bears! Good luck to them, although I must say that Green Bay is looking like a juggernaut.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Hi Tom.
    You obviously had not read Frists comments as otherwise you would perhaps not assume as you do in the article.
    Also as pointed on the political ticker the de-funding approach is not that simple and all the goodies like donut hole provisions, no pre-conditions, caps on cover, kids up to 26 ( your polls leave out 18-34 year olds) are not going to be liked, if repeal succeeeds.
    By the way why do you not mention the latest information on private insurers recent premium increase demands many over 20 % and California 59%. Now for small businesses that's a real ( not rhetorical) job crusher or job killer TAX, take your pick.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    Has anyone done an analysis on the numbers of people against the health care bill to see if these people are ones with health insurance already so they really won't benefit from the bill? Most people don't believe they will get laid off and lose their benefits until it really happens. They may fear that their insurance will cost them more and give them less benefits than they have now. Most insurance policies are heading that direction anyway – with or without the "Obamacare" legislation.

    January 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Thank God for Americans who have faith in this country and our President. I thank God for the millions white people as well as blacks who don't judge our President based on race and hate. There are millions of us who could care less about race as long as we are treated with the respect we deserve because we are Americans and love this great country.

    January 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  4. Bob S

    Shortly after reading your comments on the healthcare legislation, I read a speech delivered by James Wilson to the Pennsylvania State Legislature in October of 1787 defending the newly created U.S. Constitution. Maybe in order to go forward we need to look back to a time when men's opinions were deeply divided over a MUCH more important issue. Wilson stated, "...Every person, therefore who enjoys or expects to enjoy a place of profit under the present establishment, will object to the proposed innovation; not in truth, because it is injurious to the liberties of his country, but because it affects his schemes of wealth and consequence. I will confess, indeed, that I am not a blind admirer of this plan of government, and that there are some parts of it which, if my wish had prevailed, would certainly have been altered. But when I reflect how WIDELY men differ in their opinions, and that every man has an equal pretension to assert his own, I am satisfied that anything nearer to perfection could not have been accomplished. If there are errors, it should be remembered that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself and the concurrence of two-thirds of the Congress may at any time introduce alterations and amendments..." Maybe the Republicans can work on improving the existing legislation and not on grandstanding, maybe they can lead and not try to destroy. Unbelievable, that our founders (who Republicans frequently refer to) "found" a way – will we?

    January 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm |