April 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Letters to the President: #808 'Shutdown? Who cares . . .'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The White House continues to monitor the talks between top Dems and Repubs over the budget impasse. There haven’t been a lot of signs of movement, but thank goodness the president has my daily letter to read while he waits.

Dear Mr. President,

Have you been intrigued by the public response to the possibility of a government shutdown? Maybe you don’t have time for intrigue considering that Rome is burning and you are surrounded by fiddle players, but I have found it fascinating.

I am increasingly convinced that this is a political Rorschach test, and the reaction of voters tells us more about their general beliefs than their specific thoughts about this issue. Basically it seems to come down to this: Some people think it will be the end of life as we know it, and others think it will be like Columbus Day.

And I think this is why they think in those widely divergent ways: If you believe that government is fundamentally a positive influence on society - a solution rather than a problem most days at most times - you likely would be very concerned about the idea of it going out of business to a degree. It’s like contemplating the notion of gravity being turned off, or the sun going out.

On the other hand, if you believe the government is generally an impedance to progress - a problem more than a solution most days at most times - then you may not fear…indeed, may welcome the idea of it closing its doors for a spell. It’s like imagining how nice and quiet it will be if the neighbor turns off his leaf blower.

Of course the equation gets more complicated if you are talking about someone who works for the government (like you, ha!), or is waiting for a passport, or planning to camp in Yellowstone this weekend. But in a broad sense, I think the public reaction to this issue runs pretty true to the fault lines between the two parties here in D.C., but because the public is not steeped in this stuff all day, every day, like the D.C. crowd, there is just generally less interest in it than you might expect.

Just a thought. Hope you are doing well amid all the negotiations. If you need me to bring soda and chips over for everyone this evening, just give me a buzz. Heaven knows the government can’t afford to supply such things. Ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. nell

    We Americans appear to be headed toward a dictatorship. The republicans passed or wanted to pass a bill, stating they, the congress can pass laws. Now is this crazy or what? I do believe the politicians think we are dumb, the only thing they want is to get elected. Same goes with the msm, where are the reporters, we now have only commentators and book writers. I believe we are lost.

    April 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  2. Nafisa

    The Shutdown should not happen. Does the Government realise that listening to those Tea Party they are doing this mistake. For listening to 1% of them they are ruining the whole country. Imagine if 800,000 or more Federal Employees were furloughed then what will happen. All the businesses will be effected people will have no money to buy any thing so grocery stops will be without money, no mall shopping as no money, there will be too much of chaos in this country just because Mr. Boehner does not join Mr. Reid and Mr. Obama in passing the budge.

    Please pass the budget. Imagine people who just live pay check to pay check how will we survive. We need them to understand. If they want us to go on Furlough then they should themselves stop their salaries.

    April 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  3. Jim

    While they are Playing THUMB Switch up on the Hill They are also Playing Russian Roulette WITH MY LIFE & The Lives of Others Something THEY do not take into consideration.When I was able & In the Work force If I didn't DO MY JOB – I Got My ASS CHEWED- & If They keep Not Doing Their Jobs up on the Hill THE WHOLE LOT OF THEM WILL BE FIRED!!! Who Cares? A Lot of People Care. & We are Chewing on Congressional Behinds BECAUSE WE Care. It is real Simple- DO THE JOB YOUR PAID TO DO OR GET THE HELL OUT!!!!

    April 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm |