March 3rd, 2011
04:34 PM ET

Letters to the President: #773 'Being neighborly'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is talking with Mexican officials about the mutual interests of our two countries.

Dear Mr. President,

While you were busy talking trade and illegal drugs with our Mexican guests I went for a most excellent ten-mile run by the river this morning. I’m a little tired of the cold temperatures, but that aside, it is beginning to seem more like spring everywhere.

I saw a kingfisher swoop down over the canal and that was exciting because, as you probably know, I just love seeing kingfishers. Well, maybe you didn’t know that, but now you do.

Back to Mexico. I think it is always a good idea to get along with the neighbors if at all possible. And yet, and here is the caveat, I usually don’t want my neighbors to be my friends. I know that probably sounds a little anti-social and I don’t mean it that way. It’s just that my wife and I tried in our earliest married days to be pals with the folks who lived nearby and we quickly discovered that it didn’t work out as we had anticipated.

See, if you happen to get along really well with them, then it’s great. But if, somewhere along the way, a disagreement pops up over, oh, say, how loud you play the music, or whether you barbeque on the patio, you can’t get away from each other. With regular friends, you just back off a bit. But you can’t do that if they live next door.

So over the years we’ve developed a general policy of being cordial and making small talk with our immediate neighbors, but that’s about it - not because we don’t like them, but rather because when it comes to a dispute about property lines, or fences, or cutting weeds, we want everything on a basis of common decency and fairness, not friendship.

I suspect the same policy works best with nations too. Whether we are dealing with illegal immigration or drug running or vacations in Cabo, the keys to success are respect and straight talk.

I’m afraid I have too much to do to write anymore today. But I hope you are heading into your Friday in good spirits. Call if you can.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Barbara

    Seems to me you fight fire with fire. Why is the world sitting on it's hands while hundreds of Liberians are being killed by this crazy man? You keep reporting that the U.S. officals need to know what the protesters want. How many people on the ground need to call into AC360 and ask for a "no fly zone", for us to get the message? Help these people, please!

    March 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  2. Barbara

    Why can't the U.S.and some of it's allies send in "Black-ops" to get rid of Gaddafi's regime?
    Game over!!

    March 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm |