November 7th, 2011
04:22 PM ET

Letters to the President #1022: 'Ignoring the pop news buzz'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day. If he reads any of my letters, it must be one of those state secrets we’re always hearing about, because I have no clue if he’s even seen them. And yet, I press on.

Dear Mr. President,

Lots of news out here today: A guilty verdict in the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor, more accusations against Herman Cain, and that sexual impropriety storm that is devouring Penn State. And you know what that means? This is a great day for you to practice not being distracted.

Think about it. Millions of Americans are caught up in these stories right now; hanging on each little detail, each new development, devouring quotes from the principals like waffles at breakfast. They are reading the affidavits online, streaming the video on their smart phones, and discussing it over lunch at Chili’s.

And of course, they can afford to. We regular folks can spend hours drowning in this kind of thing.

But you can’t. Not one of these stories really has anything even faintly presidential about it. Oh sure, you may be asked to react or comment, but that does not make it your business. Your business right now is keeping the country moving forward, tending to affairs of state, and most of all, trying to get the economy back on track.

Between now and next November, there will be a million things like this that threaten to drag you, and frankly all the candidates, off course. All of you, however, must hang on like grim death to the central, important matters: unemployment, the mortgage crisis, the deficit, and who is Dancing with the Stars…oh wait….look it happened to me! Dragged down a cul-de-sac of popular culture pap!

I realize that holding a firm line against such nonsense means giving up the headlines now and then, and no one in D.C. seems good at that. For example, you issued a statement today on the elections in Liberia and it vanished like a rock tossed into the Potomac. I’m sorry about that. But don’t let it get you down. Stick to the serious work and let days like this, when the world turns its thoughts largely away from Washington, wash over you, and then press on.

The most important work often makes no headlines, but it can make a difference.

Now, speaking of serious matters, did you see the end of the Steelers-Ravens game last night? Wow! And as always…Geaux Saints!


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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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