Reporter's Note: President Obama and Mitt Romney are campaigning like there are no tomorrows left in this election. And they are nearly right…
Dear Mr. President,
You seem to be holding a slight advantage in most of the polls I saw today of battle ground states. Can’t say my survey was exhaustive since I just looked at whatever parachuted into my e-mail and a variety of websites, but it looks like you have reason to feel at least cautiously optimistic about next Tuesday. Then again, Governor Romney remains in easy striking distance in all of them, so he has some reason for optimism too.
Which brings me to an interesting distinction between winning…and winning decisively.
Although fans of both you and Mr. Romney will likely take exception, I am going to say that neither of you is going to win decisively. Oh sure, one of you will rack up enough electoral votes to wrench a concession speech from your opponent, wave to a cheering crowd, and drop the balloons. But neither of you is likely to grab the sort of unmistakable advantage that would suggest the country has rallied behind one person or one central approach to government. The number of people who vote for the winner will probably be very, very close to the number of people who voted against him.
Neither of you can really claim a mandate. Either will face huge challenges convincing Congress to go along with plans because up on Capitol Hill…well, people can count…and they’ll know what they are dealing with is a “barely” president.
I mention this not to depress you or Mr. Romney, but to point out what I think has to be item number one on the new agenda: Finding consensus. Despite all the bellyaching from both parties about the lack of cooperation across the aisle, I think the next president must suss out a way to solve that intractable problem. Unless the next Commander in Chief can truly convince the nation…and its lawmakers…that he is there for everyone; that he respects the ideas of others, including the opposition; and that he is intent on not merely being in charge, but in actually leading…his presidency will be unproductive and forgettable.
So best of luck in the next few days, to you and your opponent…and here is hoping that as soon as the race is done, true, meaningful healing with start.
Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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