Dear President Obama,Won't do a damned bit of good, but sometimes you just have to say something.
Congratulations. You gave a very nice speech last night. That's to be expected, of course: you are, after all, a great orator. I have a few thoughts, though, which I'd like to share with you.
Despite the unhinged and melodramatic claims of your detractors, you have always been essentially a centrist. Not "the most liberal senator in history," not a socialist, Marxist, fascist, black Islamic Chicago-style gangster. (Well, OK, you are black - that much is true.) You were elected saying that you would work with politicians on both sides of the aisle to get things done.
How's that working out for you so far?
You made the following statement in your address:We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -– a belief that "if you lose, I win." Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can... I'm speaking to both parties now.There's only one problem with that: speaking to both parties about that is a waste of time, because it's just the Republicans who've been doing that. In order to be successful with a bipartisan effort, both sides have to be willing to work at it.
See, it's a standard tactic of the Right and has been for about three decades now. Any time a Democrat is elected, they immediately go into overdrive to prove that he (or, someday, she) is illegitimate and has no ability to govern effectively. Google the phrase "permanent Republican majority" sometime.
Keep talking up the theory of post-partisanship, and keep inviting the Republicans to help. But since you already know that they're just going to stall, delay and deny, don't hold anything up for them. Mobilize your base and keep making progress; if you succeed and they refuse to join in, they'll either die off like the Pleistocene rejects they are, or they'll realize that, when your only campaign platform is opposition to successful programs, you aren't likely to keep pulling that sweet government paycheck for long.
Now, you also say that you need to save money. Well, here's a thought: bring the troops home. Stop dropping billions into other countries when you don't need to.
Iraq is easy: every single goal that's been set for them has been consistently met. We're done over there - to be honest, we shouldn't have gone in the first place, but there's really no need for them to still be there now.
Afghanistan is a little harder - there's actually a purpose for being there. But state what that purpose is, set an attainable goal, and when we get there, bring them home.
I notice that you finally admitted, without naming anyone specifically, that you inherited a giant pile of trash left by a certain unnamed former president who didn't feel he needed to worry about the future of America. Good job - you need to remind the historical revisionists that you didn't cause this mess, you're just trying to clean it up. They'll be more than happy to pin that on you, too.
You know, a commission to examine some of the accusations of law-breaking that occurred throughout the first decade of this century might also be a good idea. After all, if we are, in fact, a nation of laws, then there needs to be repercussions for breaking those laws. Otherwise, future generations will be sorely tempted to do exactly the same things all over again, if they believe that there will be no consequences for their actions.
There's other things you said you'd do that we're still waiting for. Close Guantanamo - you've moved in that direction, but you aren't there yet. End Don't Ask, Don't Tell - you touched on it vaguely during your speech last night, but you could end it right now, with a simple executive order.
You were elected on a platform of hope and change. Well, some of us are still hoping for some change.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
An Open Letter to President Obama
This is the email I fired off to the White House yesterday. (Technically, this is the first draft - had to knock off most of the adjectives and all of the background to fit the White House server's 2,500 word limit. But hey, he's the president - he knows this stuff already.)