In election season I probably get 10-20 political solicitations a day, most of which are deleted immediately. But once in a while I glance through something from MoveOn, or the President, or a petition forwarded by some friend. Michelle Obama is not only the Mistress of the White House, but a Mistress of Messaging too. (Tea Partyers and racist Repugs, that word has several meanings other than the one making you salivate.)
Some days you just gotta go with the flow. This is what I emailed to Obama headquarters a while ago:
I realize Mrs. O will never read this, but I just made a small donation, and decided I might also vent a bit. I am one of the many disappointed liberal/progressive/very-anti-corporate, displeased-with-Demos-too worker bees who fill this land of the fraud, home of the brazen chicaners and banksters. I wouldn’t vote for a Righty Repugnant if I were on fire and he was right (of course!) there holding a bucket of water in one hand and a fire-retardant blanket in the other!
Yet of course I am exaggerating. There have been many decent members of the GOP in the past, those fiscally conservative, Midwest-styled Moderate men and women who are so sorely lacking today—the House full of trash and the Senate full of aristocratic refuse(rs). So we elected a fine man, a prof and orator who sort of rose from the streets... but who turned out to be badly advised (by old boy insiders who should have been ostracized), or ineffectual, or too aloof from the fray for too long. Yes, the President has been trapped by economic Fate, battered and obstructed and subjected to racist vilification. But he hasn’t really fought back either; he seems intent on just holding the moral high ground and keeping the dirt off his hands and still-buttoned shirt sleeves.
You of the campaign, using the First Lady again, mailed out a splendid family photo along with the usual plea for support. This note (plus donation made) is in answer to the long letter and photo caption ostensibly written by Mrs. Obama. She makes reference to the magic words of campaigns everywhere: “real and lasting change.” A year into the first term I too pondered that phrase, and I dreamed up a nice-looking t-shirt that I gave to friends and strangers alike; it showed a giant buffalo nickel encircled by these words: “I voted for real change, not nickel-and-diming.”
And here are a couple of excerpts from the credo statement I wrote to hand out with the t-shirt; sadly they’re still pertinent today:
“...We’re trapped in this Grim Regression, praying for a Progressive President to arise—not retreat or appease—an F.D.R. full of stubborn spirit, a leader burning with the fire of M.L.K. and the hard grit of L.B.J., active and involved rather than aloof and above the fray, a scrapper who’ll kick ass, not kiss it, who’ll chop the neo-cons and turncoat ’dogs and conman Republican’ts right off at the knees!
“Over the past 30 years, Reaganomics and misbegotten corporation-funded administrations have ruined manufacturing, devastated the unions, outsourced the nation, and decimated the middle class...
“It’s time. No more pharma liars and Goldman Sachs cheats, feckless conniving Supremos and ‘best Congress money can buy.’
Yes, we backed a brilliant orator who brought us this far, but now we need an arm-twister and angry do-er... an activist President who stands with us and for us!”
I don’t think I’m the only worn-down citizen who feels this, even while continuing to vote Democrat. So please, Mrs. Obama, if you do see this note—on behalf of all us confused and disaffected--give the President a hug and a kiss and, please, a whole lot more gumption.
All best regards, Ed Leimbacher
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Some reading this may recall that ailing poet Robert Frost tried to read a new poem at Jack Kennedy’s inauguration, but had to settle for reciting his classic “The Gift Outright” instead… which states midway, “Something we were withholding made us weak…” But our embattled President actually reminds me of a different Frost work. If I may wax fanciful, he stands on the verge of the ocean of our nation’s problems, but so far seems unwilling to do more than wade the shallows, “neither out far nor in deep”—when he needs to jump in with both feet and swim hard for the horizon, ignoring sharks and storm-surge and other struggling swimmers, if he really wants to save himself and his beautiful family and the rest of US from drowning.
(Photo copyright Luke Sharrett and The New Yorker.)