June 23rd, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #885 'Being classy'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has been inclined to suggest that one of our chief economic problems is that some people are getting more than their fair share of the good life. I don’t know about that, but I do know that he is certainly getting more than his fair share of letters from me. Ha!

Dear Mr. President,

I am working up in New York today, so if you planned on inviting me to lunch, many thanks but I just can’t make it. Maybe tomorrow. Isn’t that just the way life goes? So often we find we’re in the wrong place at the right time, or the other way around. It’s like that old Dr. John song, only not as much fun.

I’ve read some interesting articles lately about the idea of “class warfare” being a central theme in the upcoming election, and that’s on my mind a bit. In short, some of your sharpest critics suggest that the cornerstone of your campaign is going to be this notion of saying, “Yes, the economy is struggling, but that’s not because I’ve done anything wrong; it’s because the rich people are screwing you!”

I suppose you could call and let me know if this is the battle plan you will use, but I doubt you will. In any event, it strikes me as a risky tactic in several ways.

First, I think it may resonate perfectly with people who are already in your corner, but not so much with others. Look, moderates and independents clearly have a deep streak of cynicism about you political types, and nothing brings it out more than an excuse. And uh…this kind of sounds like one.

Second, it may not work. Yes, the richest among us have continued to make economic strides while everyone else has fallen back, but they’ve done that for years. I’m not sure people en masse are going to believe that this is the principle cause for our current problems, and give you a pass.

And third, you’ve already been saying it. The election is still a long way off. Even if that message is selling now, I suspect by then it is going to feel a little worn down at the heels.

So do what you like as you move more into election mode, but you may want to think this notion over very carefully. Maybe it is the right path for you; but if it is not, I suspect it could turn out very wrong.

Like I said, I’m out of town today, but you can always call and say hi.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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