February 26th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #768 'Taking the ball and going home'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Despite roaring world events, the tension continues in a variety of states where budget issues have pitted unions against elected officials in a not too friendly manner - unlike my letters to the White House, which are always friendly.

Dear Mr. President,

When I play tennis, I tend to push the pace. A lot. My serves come in rapid succession, and after each point I sprint to the line to serve again, especially if it is really hot out. See, I’m not that good at the game, but I have a lot of natural stamina; so even if I lose a lot of points early in the match, I can make them up later when my opponent grows tired from the relentless speed.

It is a legitimate and effective way to win, and many times I’ve sent a playing partner home shaking his head over how he lost a once massive lead. But in a classic, sportsmanlike sense, I can see how some might see this as, if not “dirty,” at least a “questionable” tactic.

And that’s pretty much how I think a lot of citizens see the antics of those lawmakers who have fled their own states and gone into hiding like rabbits rather than face a losing vote. They are breaking no rules. And yet, it brings a whole new intensity to that “Party of No” label you have so happily tagged onto the Republicans when they would not cooperate with your plans.

When elected officials, Democrat or Republican, start relying so heavily on what are essentially parliamentary tricks to stave off defeat, I think it troubles an awful lot of Americans - left, right, and center. It seems immature, and a kind of thwarting of elected government itself. Again, I’m not just laying this at the doorstep of the Dems in Wisconsin. We’ve seen plenty of this kind of behavior on both sides of the aisle.

Like sex and bribery scandals though, I think such practices deepen the public mistrust of all you political types, whether your side benefits or not from the maneuver. So as the battles rattle on over budgets, and unions, and governors and the like, it is right for you and your team to fight as hard as you can to win. But for pols of all stripes, I think it is also worth scrutinizing your tactics, to see what you might be losing along the way.

Just a few thoughts for a Saturday. I’ll be out running a lot this weekend, so if you try to call and can’t reach me, just leave a message.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Rita in illinois

    I think it bothers people left, right and center even more when a government is refusing to compromise on any level when the citizens of his state have agreed to all the financial concessions he has asked for (remember the debate on the public option?). I think it's bothersome that there are almost no reports about the other things in this governors bill that will hurt the people in Wisconsin. It's simply being reported as a fight between the governor and the teachers union. What about the parts of the bill that will allow major cuts in healthcare for low income people. What about the part that will allow no bid contract and the parts of the bill that will allow the governor to privatize the heating and cooling plants. Why is this not being reported on? I find this very bothersome! So much for "keeping them honest".

    February 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  2. Salem Bensasi

    Dear Mr. President,

    I write to you today with tears in my eyes. Tears for my people who are being massacred in the streets of Libya. I realize there is a media blockade and information is hard to come out of Libya, but if your diplomats on the ground in Tripoli or your spy satelites and intelligence analysts can't tell you what is going on, surely you have access to CNN, BBC and Aljazeera. I know for a fact that you have access to Facebook and Twitter, so not knowing what’s going on is not an excuse. In the past 45 days, you have been given three chances to change our image of "America the Imperialist" to that of "America–Supporter of Freedom"–and to affirm to the rest of the world that America values human life, freedom and democracy.

    You have failed all three tests, first in Tunisia, then Egypt, now in Libya. I understand that a person could make a mistake and misread a situation once, but three times? Three times, you chose to side with a brutal dictator and go against people asking and dying for what they thought America stood for.

    I have been a proud US naturalized citizen for the past 25 years. Today, thanks to you, I am ashamed to be an American. Thank you Mr. President for nothing. Thank you for turning your back on crying women and children as they are being gunned down by a ruthless murderer. Libyans will survive this. We will win, but we will never forget. Mr. President, you have just lost 5 million more hearts and minds. I hope you sleep well!


    Salem Bensasi

    Pittsburgh, PA


    February 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  3. Bonnie

    The president needs to live up to his promise made during the 2008 campaign and 'stand with the unions' in your comfortable shoes. They need you in Wisconsin. This is much, much more than pensions, wages, etc. It's about the Democratic Party in the future. Does anyone really want a totally conservative government??

    February 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I guarantee you if the bill to extend the Bush tax cuts were still on the table, Republicans wouldn't dare shutdown government, but it's not and the rich got what they wanted.

    February 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  5. Gail Caruso


    I am so tired of Democrat,Republican, Independent,Green Party,Tea Party, can we please just start working together,for the country, for the betterment of the people, for the people. !!!!

    February 26, 2011 at 10:16 am |