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Helen Thomas and Craig Crawford Offer Advice to President Obama

Helen%20Thomas%20at%20press%20conf

This is interesting Helen Thomas and Craig Crawford have written a book together in which they discuss Thomas’ recollections of all the Presidents she has covered, beginning with John F. Kennedy. It’s called Listen Up, Mr. President At CNN.com, the two reporters offer “five key insights” for the current President. There is also a great collection of photos of Helen Thomas over the years. Here are just a few brief excerpts from the article.

Insight #2: Forget your privacy: You are a public servant

You are not perfect, Mr. President. So don’t pretend that you are and hide the bad stuff. If you are still smoking, say so directly, and openly share your struggle with the public.

Protecting your privacy can come at a greater cost than simply revealing what you don’t want the public to know. If it is found out — and it probably will be — you not only have the fallout from the exposure to deal with, but you will also be accused of deceit.

Insight # 4: Have courage: Even if it hurts

The theme of your campaign was summed up by the title of one of your books, “The Audacity of Hope.” You’ve given us hope, Mr. President. Now show us the audacity.

In Afghanistan, Mr. President, you risk repeating Lyndon Johnson’s disastrous escalation of the Vietnam War after listening too much to the generals. Again, the Pentagon wants more troops for a tricky war, vowing success in Afghanistan if you only agree. That’s what the British and the Russians thought before they utterly failed to subdue their foes in Afghanistan’s difficult terrain.

Have courage to resist such pleas if your instincts say otherwise, Mr. President. That is why the founders of our nation put a civil servant in charge of the military. You are the decision-maker, not the follower.

Insight # 5: Give us vision: It’s your legacy

A good president, wrote 19th century historian Henry Adams, “resembles the commander of a ship at sea. He must have a helm to grasp, a course to steer, a port to seek.”

The port you seek, Mr. President, is your vision. Those who take this lightly do so at their peril.

But even the most inspirational vision is just talk if not combined with action.

Now is the time to fill in the blanks, Mr. President. The excitement and newness of your presidency has worn off. Turn your vision into reality. Show us that you can deliver results.

It’s excellent advice, gently delivered. If only the President would listen.

This is an open thread.

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