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August 8th, 2011
07:59 PM ET

Letters to the President: #931 'Defining self interests'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is asking elected leaders to think long and hard about what the nation needs, rather than their own interests. As they say in my neighborhood, “Ha! Good one!”

Dear Mr. President,

Hey, I noticed the stock market acting a little squirrely today. Did something happen?

Ha! Just kidding. Can’t be a good day to be in your job, I’m sure. I watched your comments on the economy earlier today and I thought you must have wanted to be almost anywhere else.

That said, there is no value in carping about how Standard & Poor’s made their decision, as some folks on your team have been doing. The fact is, it sounds a little like whining about the referee after you’ve lost the game, know what I mean? Whether they somehow messed up the final numbers, we strayed into dangerous territory on our own. We gave them reason to wonder if we can be trusted to repay all the money being loaned to us, and that is what got us into trouble; not a couple of misplaced decimals.

So what now? I utterly agree that our problems, as you said, are solvable, if only members of Congress will “put what's best for the country ahead of self-interest or party or ideology." But if they were prone to that kind of behavior, do you think we’d even be in this fix? Honestly, many of them will privately tell you that they are under such pressure (both self-imposed and from their parties) to raise money, rally votes, and get re-elected, that they don’t have a lot of time for high minded ideals like…oh say, the good of the country. And in any event, many are convinced that what is best for the country is their re-election!

The same can be said of presidents. After all, don’t you think that at some time in our country’s long history, if presidents always put the nation’s good above their own, at least once we would have had someone say “Gosh, I’d like to be President again, I just don’t think it will be good for America. So I’m stepping aside.” And yet that does not appear in the history books.

So while I applaud what you had to say about putting the country first (hey, who wouldn’t?) in practice I think that is a very tall order. You are fighting against the basic nature of political leaders, and you are asking them to display a quality that even the men who have held your office have rarely displayed. And if we’re betting a better credit rating on such behavior in the near future, I think we better find something else with which to up the ante.

Call if you can.

Regards,

Tom


Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • T1 • Tom Foreman
soundoff (One Response)
  1. L. R. Long

    The idea that a sitting president would suggest the country would be better off under new leadership is as ridiculous as polls that say people favor "any candidate" over Obama. Yeah, until one of the Republican presidential hopefuls becomes that candidate. There simply is no situation where an incument would genuinely think he's overwhelmed. If that were to happen, it would be the American majority, that voted for this quitter, that is to blame. President Obama is so qualified to run this country and his opposition knows it. Each of the Republican candidates serves but one purpose: To make the man they know will be re-elected look bad and to increase their standing for 2016, when they'll have a chance.

    August 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm |

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