[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/03/28/t1larg.obama-libya-close-up.t1larg.jpg width=300 height=169]Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama has not explained to the public why we are fighting in Libya. We’ll see if they buy it.
Dear Mr. President,
A friend of mine was involved in a kind of political-debate-cum-sideshow years ago. He would take the liberal viewpoint, another man would take the conservative position, and they would slug it out to the endless amusement of cheering audiences. They performed at college campuses, in front of civic groups, and probably at cattle auctions for all I know.
One night, as they were leaving an event, for all the raucous hilarity they’d provoked, the other guy turned and said, "So do you think we changed anyone’s mind?" And as my friend later described it, he was struck by the realization that the answer was almost certainly "no."
I mention it, because as I watched you make the case for the war in Libya, I kept asking myself, "Is this enough to change anyone’s mind?" And I suspect that is really the question you need to ask yourself.
After all, I don’t suppose you would make such a speech unless you thought that the American people were feeling a little uncertain about what we are doing there and why. In addition, I would guess you wanted to encourage your friends and quiet your critics on Capitol Hill. And beyond that? Well, it’s not beyond the pale to think you’d want your foreign allies to see you bolstering political support at home for the rockets red glare in Libya.
So while everyone else slices and dices your words to decide whether you made your case, what you must ask yourself is that same question: Did I change anyone’s mind? Is anyone who was against this effort, now for it?
It is a tough, but simple test of whether your achieved your goal or just wasted the evening. And the answer, more than any comment by any pundit, will tell you whether your speech worked or not.
Give me a call if you want to do the pluses and minuses. I’m good at those.
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