April 15th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #816 'Can we still be friends?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama fired a pretty loud shot across the Republicans’ bow this week over deficit reduction. Which may be a good campaign maneuver, but as I note in today’s letter, perhaps not the most productive start to negotiations on fixing these budget issues that everyone says are so pressing.

Dear Mr. President,

Getting along with people is not always easy, as most of us found out in grade school. Someone else wants your favorite crayon, or your spot on the monkey bars, or your seat at lunch; on and on it goes.

It continues into adulthood. Another commuter wants to nose into your lane; a co-worker wants to finagle you out of your little corner of cubicle land; some impatient pilot wakes you up from your nap in the control tower. You get the picture.

Still, getting along despite such friction is a critical part of success. There is only so much that most of us can do on our own no matter how powerful we are. (Unless, I mean, you’re like Oprah. Who I think can actually make laws on her own. Pretty sure.) And I hope it doesn’t disappoint you to hear that this principle applies to presidents, too.

You found yourself struggling to get things done your way even when your Democrats were in charge of everything from legislation to parking spaces. So with the Republicans now running the House and elbowing folks around in the Senate a bit, I think you might want to be thinking a bit more about playing well with others.

I understand that you have to fling some candy to your base now and then (as you did with that deficit speech this week) but if you actually want to get anything done during the next year while you run for re-election, I’m pretty sure you’re going to need at least a few Republicans on board. After all, you, quite simply, don’t have the political muscle right now to do much without them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you have to agree with them, or stroke their egos, or anything like that. I’m just saying you don’t have to start a war either. When we openly accuse someone of being unreasonable and foolish, in my experience they tend to regard us in the same way. And while such a tactic may be a good way to run for re-election, it might lead to some pretty unnecessarily rough and unproductive months in the meantime.

Speaking of unproductive, I’ve done all I’m going to do today. Packing up the papers and heading for home. If you want me to stop by later give me a call. Want to watch some of the hockey playoffs?


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Loretta Hollings

    I'm very concerned about grey wolves being made the pawn in the compromise of this budget so that it would pass! The fact that President Obama and Harry Reid caved into some Republicans from Western states representing special interest groups and capitulating to their dishonorable rider is outrageous and disappoints me greatly in our president's and Mr. Reid's integrity. Delisting wolves from The Endangered Species Act sets a very bad precedent and denies wolves important protections that they need. The Endangered Species Act was one of the best laws ever to be enacted by Congress not only for preserving threatened species but in preserving habitat which their survival depends on and now we have the Republicans trying to dismantle it as they have tried to do with so many other great acts of Congress such as social security, etc.

    It sets a terrible precedent delisting animals from necessary protection and shows no respect for current scientific research especially in this matter of the grey wolves whose numbers are still precariously low. Even though I voted for President Obama in the last election, if he does not veto this objectionable rider to this budget bill, I cannot in all good conscience vote for him in the next election. Animals and our environment are important too! I think Obama's record on these important matters has been weak and ambivalent.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  2. daniel atulobi

    The joint communique president Obama and his British counterpart issued yesterday, declaring that the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, must go and go for good,has reinforced the earlier statements of the president and the secretary of state to the same effect.
    Whereas those earlier statements were not followed by necessary actions needed to enforce them;it is hoped that the joint communique will not suffer the same fate.
    It is widely recognized in the international community that as long as Gaddafi is in power, the UN Resolution 1973 and the no-fly zone still in force, will amount to exercises in futility.
    In the light of the above therefore,removing Gaddafi from office by force should,henceforth, be the main thrust of the Coalition attacks, in the fashion French forces captured president Gbagbo in Ivory coast.In fact France initiated this strategy in Libya by bombing Gaddafi's residence. If the initiative had been suastained to its logical conclusion,the process of building a democratic Libya would have begun.
    To conclude this comment, I call on the Coalition to ignore the libyan forces and their tanks, remove Gaddafi, and the Libyan revolution will be over in less than 24 hours.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm |