Dear President Obama:
“Yes we can!” was your political mantra of the campaign.
And we believed.
But, alas, more and more, it seems, you can’t.
We were already disappointed with George Bush when he was selected president. It only took you eight months to disappoint us. You might yet wake up and realize why we elected you; but I have not the audacity to hope.
I voted for a basketball player, but you are turning out to be another golfer. I should have known when I first saw you playing the Republican sport. Your were to be our champion, but not matter how many times you went to the opposition with your delusional desire for bipartisanship, no matter how many times they knocked you down like a Bozo punching bag, you kept coming back for more.
One would expect that a guy who played playground ball would know that when you lose respect, you lose. When the opposition senses that you put being loved above winning, they smell blood in the water. And smell blood they did, emboldened by your timidity, you equivocation, your temporizing, they struck with every audacious form of attack, stirring deep into that residue of racism and resentment, tapping into that fear that there might finally be a political leader with the balls to take us into a more enlightened 21st Century (they need not have worried, it seems), putting Hitler mustaches on the face of the President of the United States, calling you “Fascist,” “Communist,” even “racist.” And you took the “trash talk,” went to Martha’s Vineyard and played effing golf! Those of us who voted for you laughed derisively and despondently, when they called you a “liberal.” “Progressive” would be a real stretch, and “Center-Right” seems the best fit.
So, if that bunch of dorks you have as “advisors” can’t bring you around, I am going to let out my bitter disappointment (this is my audacity of hope). Believe this—I am not alone. Your approval numbers are declining faster than the gas gauge on a Hummer. Let me begin with a couple of wake-up calls.
Bi-Partisanism. If B-P was not always bullshit in America it certainly is now and, the sooner you crank that into your political reality the sooner you will have a chance to rescue your sinking administration. Forget about it; the other guys are playing you a cheap tin kazoo and you keep coming back for more. Get this: most Republicans hate your guts, and they want your administration to fail. That’s their prime job as they see it. Christ, just watch them on the news and talk shows. Wake up, dude, they would just a soon knife you in the back as shake your hand for a photo op. And part of this is because of . . .
Racism. It’s alive and virulent in the good ole US of A. So deal with it. You took Mr. Charlie’s White House and they don’t like it one bit. You are not the Great Black Hope to them, you are the “N” word that dare not speak its name (at least in public). That’s what Palin’s “not a real American” was code for, what the “Birther” thing is code for, what the rants over the Sotomajor nomination were about. Our racists are never going to like you, so forget about trying to gain favor with them. They are social scum and you neutralize them, not hug them. But also don’t do dumb crap like you did on the Professor Gates thing, saying you “don’t know the facts” and then bunching what you just said you didn’t know with remarks about the way police have been known to treat Blacks. Hell, Rodney King was smarter than you on that one. I almost put my head in my hands and wept. Talk about blowing it. I though you did a great job with your speech after that pompous ass Rev. Wright nearly scuttled your campaign, but you undid all of that in one thoughtless moment.
Given that, what have you accomplished?
It seems only the stem cells need rejoice—and they didn’t even vote!
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” Nothing, except lose the confidence of the gays.
DOMA? Nada except lose more gays.
Guantanamo? As glacial a pace as you could muster. But you kept secret renditions and nothing done about the Patriot Act. Bush lives!
Torture? Looks like the war criminals will walk. Afraid to offend the CIA, afraid to offend the military; they sense the weakness, too. Notice how Dick Cheney sneers at the new president, broadcasting that he can’t or won’t protect the American people. And Obama gives it credibility by not even defending himself. Cheney lives!
Katrina? On the anniversary you couldn’t even be bothered to do a George Bush flyover. Played golf.
Iraq? Still 130,000 troops there. Blackwater is back in there, getting their big bucks. Notice how the so-called “surge” is unrvelling? You need to read an article in the recent Mother Jones that lays out nicely how U.S. officers can give out no-bid contracts to Iraqi sheiks up to a half-mil each time for building projects at hugely inflated prices, a nice under the table way of bribing their allegiance away from Al Qaeda—but only if we keep paying! Like the good ole Bremer days when $8 billion in pallets of shrink-wrapped hundred just “disappeared” these payments are made directly in cash. Nice photo of you with the sheik, by the way, just like the one Bush took with him.
Afghanistan? This will be your Vietnam. Korrupt Kharzi is the Diem in this version. Now we learn that Wakenhut, the mercenaries hired for this place stages nude, drunken parties. It’s all over he media. That ought to help our international reputation. Maybe you should have a word with Mrs. Clinton since this State’s responsibilty. It is astonishing how easily you have bought into the sucker’s game in Afghanistan. No end in sight, but it will be around for the mid-term elections and probably 2012. Even the right wing is starting to go negative on it, positioning to make it your war. You will go down like your approval ratings, like a Stinger missile taking out a Russian helicopter gunship.
The recession? Wall street still rules, and right from inside your administration through Geithner and Summers. The Wall Street boys saw you coming and sold you the bridge down the street. If they are “too big to fail” then you are “too dumb to succeed.” Oh, the economy will come back, although a lot of little people you could have helped will have gotten screwed along the way. Real unemployment is in the teens. Instead, you have let the Wall Street boys back into their old game, and without any loss of their bonuses (despite the, ahem, your tough talk to them.)
And Health Care for all Americans? The issue that might bring us into the orbit of civilization. Many see this as your litmus, your real test. This was to be the centerpiece of your presidency, your legacy—and you are blowing it! Instead you make stupid comparisons of health care with the Post Office. Meanwhile your “bipartisan friends” knife you in the back—again—and the right wingnuts crank up the “death panels” and forced abortions while you outfiddle Nero
I voted for you because I believed that you meant to make system change; that’s the real change we were looking for—systemic change—not appointing the same guys that caused the problem to the same positions of power, not carrying forward the disastrous agenda of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Basically, you talk a good audacity; but you can’t, or won’t, walk it.
I like you, Mr. President. I still have a glimmer of hope and, I suppose I should not encourage more complacency from you by saying so, but I will never, ever, join the opposition or vote for them. But you are not the president I voted for. Not even close.
With all due respect,
P.S. Hey, if we are ever on the same basketball court, choosing up sides for a little half-court three-on-three? Please don’t choose me to be on your team. I prefer teamates who play to win.
©2009, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 9.5.2009)