Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: Egypt continues to dominate the news. I continue to write to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
One of my daughters sent a text my way the other day that said, “I don’t understand what is happening in Egypt. Please explain.”
I wrote one paragraph - sort of a Sparks Notes version - and felt pretty good about it. I mentioned the basics of the political climate there, the unemployment rate, the demographics of the population, and the (at least for us) amazing strangeness of having one person in the presidency for 30 years.
But ever since, I’ve been thinking that maybe I buried the lede by putting that last item…well, last. On one hand, I can see how having one person in charge for a long time could create predictability. The presidency would be a McDonald’s drive-thru; like it or not, you know what you’re getting. I can also see how if any politician were given that many years in office, he or she could pursue some long term goals that are hard to pull off in one or two terms. Imagine where your health care reforms would wind up if you could stay in charge until 2041.
On the other hand, if we allowed terms of more than 30 years, Jimmy Carter could still be holding the Oval Office. Imagine. How different would our nation be if he had remained in power all these years? Mind you, I am not passing judgment on whether the result would be good or bad (although I’m sure many people will,) I’m just saying it would likely be way different. We would have never known the ideas of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, either of the George Bushes, or you.
I understand why people might grow tired of such a situation.
Here is something I’ve learned from writing these letters; it is something I’ve always known, but never demonstrated to myself so clearly: I don’t have that many good ideas. We all think we do. We all imagine that if we were put in charge of a country, it would be all great houses, smart children, fabulous cars, and free milkshake machines in the parks. And maybe it would work that way for someone who is a lot smarter than I; but I suspect such folks are few and far between. And even putting Egypt aside, you’ve got to wonder what any leader, who has held the same job for so long, still has to contribute.
Give me a buzz if you get a break in the rioting. Would love to hear from you.
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