November 19th, 2011
10:08 AM ET

Letters to the President #1034: 'Call me lazy'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is an acknowledged master of the written and spoken word. But sometimes even masters strike the wrong note, as I note in today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Years ago I read that the most common song found on jukeboxes coast to coast was still that old masterpiece, “Crazy.” It was written by Willie Nelson back in 1961, recorded by the great Patsy Cline, and quickly became a must-hear for the café, bar, and roadhouse crowd. So everywhere we went for years and year we heard “Crazy”over and over again.

That was pleasant. On the other hand, I suspect in coming months you are going to hear the word “lazy” over and over, and it’s not going to be nearly as nice. By now you’ve probably seen the headlines about your…well, perhaps ill-considered choice of the word “lazy” in some recent remarks.

I understand that you were just trying to describe the degree to which we have not been terribly aggressive in pursuing foreign investments, the problem is that it did sort of sound like you were calling Americans lazy, and no one likes to hear such things.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I had a cousin who was perfectly happy to be called lazy, or at least too lazy to complain about it, but he’s an unusual case.

The point is, you just can’t let a word like “lazy” come slipping out as you head into a big election. It re-opens the door for all the accusations you’re already heard far too often: that you are elitist, you look down on working class people, and you see more of what is wrong with the country than what is right.

Suffice to say your Republican foes, who are already pounding on this comment like a drum, will probably keep it up for the entire campaign. It is, after all, the newest, greatest hit on their jukeboxes. And they’ll play it over, and over, and over…until the bar closes and the lights go out. Hey, this is politics. They’d be crazy not to!

Hope your weekend is going well.


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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. John Doe

    Just to be clear if you actually heard the comment made by our President, he did NOT say that Americans were lazy but that our GOVERNMENT had become lazy over the last couple of decades with promoting our investments in other countries. If this is what the Republican Presidential candidates (i.e,. Romney, Perry, Gingrich, etc.) are focusing on, they truly do not have any credibility and are NOT focusing on what is important to the American people which are jobs and the economy which is what our President stays focused on. None of the Republican Presidential candidates should ever become the President of the United States as it would be an absolute disaster if one of them did.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  2. Donna Wood Lexinton Tn

    Sorry, thats President not Pesident! Yes I can spell, at least most of the time! Thanx!

    November 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  3. Donna Wood Lexinton Tn

    OH! That was good Mr. Foreman! Now I know why I read your letters! They really do strike a chord! As much as I respect Pesident Obama I just have to wonder if he could perhaps hear the soft rustle of the American peoples heads turning away when he made the 'lazy statement'? Please dont look down on us sir! Some of us are trying really hard! Have a heart!

    November 21, 2011 at 6:37 pm |