November 10th, 2012
09:18 AM ET

Letters to the President #1391: 'Looking for middle ground'

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s talking about talking to Congress. Both parties.

Dear Mr. President,

Before all this CIA mess cranked up yesterday, I was gong to write to you about your comments regarding upcoming talks with Congress about the fiscal cliff, and taxes, and well…maybe the problems in the NHL for all I know.

I think one of the most important things you said was that you are open to compromise.

Compromise is often looked negatively way in our hyperpartisan times. People on the left, for example, feel as if you have already compromised far too much to accommodate the right. And people on the right feel as if their leaders have been far too quick to make deals with you. Here is the thing, though: When a situation is gridlocked, unless both sides are willing to compromise, no one can get what he or she wants. Can’t even get close to it.

The only people satisfied by that are certain Libertarians maybe who like the idea of a paralyzed government. But I suspect even many of their clan find that a poor substitute for real deals.

Signaling a willingness to compromise is also, to my mind, not a sign of weakness. I realize some people think it is, but not me. I think it takes much more courage, strength, and intelligence to craft a good compromise than it does to ram through some piece of divisive legislation. On top of which, when a compromise is good, you have both sides fighting to make it work…instead of one fighting to tear it down.

So good luck as your plans move forward. If you truly meant what you said, you’ve taken a right step. Now there are probably just a million more to go. Ha!


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