February 20th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Letters to the President: #762 'Paying the piper'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president and others in DC are once again facing the prospect of a big league budget shoot-out. Oh, will the madness never end?

Dear Mr. President,

When I was in junior high school, I listened to my coaches. One of the things they told me about basketball was, in a nutshell, “You can’t push another player. That is a foul.”

I am by nature a rule follower (I know, hard to believe,) so I took the message to heart. So you can imagine my frustration when I reached high school and the game took on a much, much more rough-and-tumble atmosphere. Suddenly there were hands, elbows, and knees flying all over the place. I came out of games feeling as beaten up as I did when I played football.

That kind of gamesmanship that strives to test the referees every moment and get away with every infraction possible, never sat well with me. Frankly, I’ve always seen it as unsportsmanlike.

So you can imagine how I feel about the current stalemate between the Dems and the GOP over the federal budget and the looming possibility of a government shutdown in a couple of weeks. Time and again it seems like we have circumstances such as this. Each side says we need more honest, civil debate; we need to decide legislation based on merit; and on and on they go. We need, they say, to play by the rules. But then when it comes down to the actual game, it’s all elbows again and we voters are left wondering if there are any referees left to be found.