August 29th, 2012
11:49 PM ET

Letters to the President #1318: 'Being Normal'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day.

Dear Mr. President,

One of the more tiring aspects of all the security around a political convention these days is the feeling you have of being trapped once you are inside. No dashing away for a quick-lunch, or a cup of coffee (I mean, if I liked coffee) or a quiet phone conversation away from the hubbub. No, once you are in, you’re pretty much there for the day.

Not that this will ever be a problem for you again. Think about that: You will never have to wait in a line, or be anyplace you don’t want to be for very long ever again in your life. Actually, I suppose that second part is not entirely true. I’m sure whether you win or lose in November, you’ll spend a fair portion of your time forever more sitting at dinners, and ribbon cuttings, and committee meetings, and fundraisers, and all those things associated with the unique purgatory reserved for former presidents.

Still, you can’t complain. At least you won’t be forced to tolerate all those day-to-day inconveniences that the rest of us face; long lines at stores, or exhaustive searches for parking spaces, or conventions where you are trapped by the security.

Which, I must say, is a shame. Whenever I attend a big political event like this, I am struck by the notion that pretty much everyone who is a really big name enjoys privileges which normal folks can only dream of. So how are those “leaders” supposed to really understand life as regular Americans know it? Oh sure, you all say you get it; that you recall your childhood or your days as a young adult when you ate noodles for every meal and shared an apartment with three other guys. But I have found that the realities of status very quickly make true sympathy for those who struggle grow faint.

I know it would be impossible, but sometimes I wish the people who are our leaders would lead much, much, much more average lives; that they would drive themselves to work, and get struck in traffic, and have to argue with the bank, and get baseball tickets the way the rest of us do… not through special connections to special friends. Maybe it would change nothing, but maybe it would change everything.

Sorry that this letter is a bit disjointed, but I am writing it in the midst of a convention crowd with a storm of noise all around me, after eating a barbecue sandwich off a plate balanced on my knee. Hope all is well with you.

Call if you can.


soundoff (One Response)
  1. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    Sometimes couples must break up because they've enabled bad or unhealthy behavior in each other. Much like you stated, I think leader's living styles or what society has made of them has the possibility of enabling unhealthy and skewed behavior.

    On the other side of things, the president is trying to solve the "big issues" and perhaps if he did try to do things himself, fans might go crazy and that might push him back on his agenda (of which I hope there is one!). It's a complicated balance but I hope he can pause sometime in his busy day to reflect on these things! It's important for the heart and mind which ultimately affects leadership which does affect us! ah!

    Thank you for your letters,

    August 30, 2012 at 9:19 am |