Dear Mr. President,
I fell in love with you almost two years ago. I'd heard about you, of course, although I missed your speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. I had heard how brilliant it was, how inspired and enthusiastic, and of course heard all the predictions that you would be a Presidential contender "some day." But you didn't really enter my conscious space until 2008, when I began to listen and read, when I began to look for someone who could lead this great nation out of the mess George W. Bush and his friends had created.
I looked at John Edwards.
I looked at Hillary Clinton.
I looked at Barack Obama - and I liked what I saw and what I heard. I began to fall in love. Oh, I'm almost old enough to be your mother, so it wasn't a romantic love; but it was love nonetheless. You had a fire in your belly. You had people around you who admired you, trusted you, spoke well of you. You had a youthfulness and energy that appealed to me and lots of others like me. I came out of my self-imposed exile from all things political to make phone calls, knock on doors, and donate a few dollars on your behalf. I had conversations about you and your campaign, and told many people - and it was true - that I hadn't felt this inspired by a candidate since John Kennedy ran in 1960.
Your history as a community organizer appealed to me. I used to work extensively with volunteers and know the special kind of work that is and how difficult it can be. I liked it that you spoke of bringing people together across political lines. I, too, am a conciliator and prefer it to bluster, bribery, threats, or force. And, yes, as a woman who traces her ancestry through generations of white Southerners, I was thrilled that you are African-American. So it's pretty easy to see why I fell in love.
Today, I confess, I'm feeling some strain in our relationship.
As I've watched the past few months (and defended you over and over, even while writing several emails to ask you why you don't seem to care anymore), you've put on your cloak of Harvard-professordom and been very lawyerly and professional-appearing when you've spoken to the American people. You've ignored the lies, the insults, the outright flaming from the Republicans. Now, I don't expect you to be someone other than who you are, but, dammit, Mr. President, I know the fire is there and you're banking it instead of allowing it to burn and purify!
I remember one of your televised rallies during the campaign. You and the folks attending the rally started a little back-and-forth, saying "Yes, we can!" You said it, they said it, you said it again, they said it again... you were getting into a rhythm, I was getting ready to channel my long-dead granny and shout "Amen!" Then you appeared to realize what you were doing - concerned that it would seem too "ethnic," maybe - and you cut it off. But for a minute there, I saw the fire.
Mr. President, don't you ever want to tell Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh to just shut the fuck up? I mean, really, how much of their crap can you take without letting them have it with both barrels? Tell them to get their fat asses out of the way and let the Democrats do the work We, the People elected you to do.
I can even imagine that sometimes - not often, I know - but sometimes your mother-in-law goes out in the evening and Michelle decides to turn in early and says something like, "Barry, keep an ear out for the girls. Make sure they get their baths and get to bed on time." And there you are, maybe reading up on tomorrow's news and all of a sudden you hear, "Give me that! It's mine!" "Make me!" Now I know you're a good daddy, but sometimes don't you just want to go in their room and lay it on the line? Say, "Cut it out, you two. You've been raised better than this, and I'm tired of the fighting." (I know they fight because I have a sister, so don't pretend they don't.) And I know you're human and you get tired of the same battles between the girls, and having to say the same thing over and over. I know that, just as I know that sometimes you have to take a tough stance with them for their own good. You can't just let them get away with stuff because you're a nice guy and don't want to upset them. You have a responsibility to them, to raise them to take their places as responsible people.So sometimes, even though you're a nice, understanding kind of guy - one who really doesn't like confrontation - you have to do the things you don't really like to do. In the name of the greater good.
Well, Mr. President, We the People need to see that side of you, and we need it pretty darn fast. We believed your dual messages of Hope and Change, we even believed you wanted us to prod you when you got off course. But somehow our prodding isn't getting through. Have the people around you managed to isolate you from what we're saying? Or - and I hope this isn't it - were you just leading us on? Were we just a hot date for you, and now that you have what you wanted you're ignoring our messages and refusing our phone calls? Because, honestly, Mr. President, it kinda seems that way right now, and we're not going to be strung along until you need us again. Yesterday's loss in Massachusetts - Ted Kennedy's seat, for Pete's sake! - well, that was our daddy collaring you and asking what your intentions are, exactly. Should we go ahead with the plans for 2012 or start looking now for someone who really cares and won't lead us down that Primrose Path?
Until I see what direction this relationship is going to take, I need to take a little time to decide if it's worth pursuing. Let me know real soon, okay?
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