BENEATH THE SPIN ERIC L. WATTREE
An Open Letter to President Obama
I've always been one of your biggest supporters. I remember looking on with moist eyes the day you threw your hat in the ring. I knew even then that I was witnessing the beginning of a new era in America. Even then I knew that you were destined to become the next president of the United States, so along with millions of others I embraced the audacity of hope.
While I've voted in every election since I've been eligible to vote, this time it was a little different. This time around, for the very first time in my life, I set my cynicism aside and invested my time, money, and emotion into a campaign. I defended you in my columns against even the slightest hint of criticism. I wrote letters and corresponded with people and groups all over the country promoting your interests, and I even arranged for my bank to send a modest check each month.
I didn't do these things because I saw you as a rock star, I did them so I could contribute something more than just lip service to change in America. Now I'm asking you to reciprocate, because as I see it, you're on the verge of deeply disappointing millions of people like myself.
When the pundits first began pointing out that the far left was becoming disenchanted with you for compromising your campaign promises in the face of GOP pressure, and then your administration started sending out trial balloons, I began to agonize - Here we go again.
But what made these reports even more painful was knowing that the mild admonishment from the pundits hadn't gone far enough. The truth is, it's not just angry radicals who are becoming disenchanted, it's your entire base. The dream that was so palpable in the hearts of millions just a matter of months ago, was on the verge of evaporating before our eyes. It was on the verge of succumbing to the very thing we rallied against - business as usual.
In one of my previous articles I pointed out how much I admired the fact that you tended to give reason priority over ideology. I found it quite refreshing to see a politician who assessed every issue on its on merit instead of basing his decisions on pre-chewed and regurgitated dogma. I had hoped that such a mindset would help to break the gridlock in Washington and serve to help the American people to get the kind of governance that they deserved.
But it became clear early on that the GOP was having none of that. They clearly demonstrated that it wasn't effective governance that they were after. Their primary motivation is to bring you down and regain power, by any means necessary. So why pretend otherwise?
I though you'd recognize that fact and quickly replace your carrot with a stick - or more appropriately, a brick - but to my horror, you're still running around Washington trying to pet a snake. Wake up, Mr. President. It's time to show some backbone. If you don't, by this time next year you'll be both branded, and through.
Somehow I managed to missed Harvard, but as a proud product of South Central Los Angeles I have extensive experience when it comes to aggression. So believe me, mindless aggression can never be appeased through kindness. The Republicans are like coyotes. They're still feeling you out at this point, but once they're convinced that theres nothing to fear, they're gonna have you for lunch. They're all bullies, and the first place a bully goes when he's looking for a victim is to that guy that's always going around trying to make friends with everybody. He draws the bully like a mouth to a flame, because the bully perceives Mr. Nice Guy's need to seek out friends as a sign of weakness.
At this point you're only into your seventh month as president. While you're putting up a good front so far, the reality is, the Republicans, in spite of their small numbers, already have you cowering in the corner while they're encouraging blatant insurrection all over the country. They're publishing cartoons about your assassination, telling blatant lies about your initiatives, and showing up at your town hall meetings armed to the teeth. You even have a war criminal running around shaking his finger at you for having the audacity to investigate his crimes - and at the same time, he's telling the people that you're too weak to defend them against an aggressor. So the fact is, you're not looking too good.
You're allowing the Republican party to Carter-ize you. They're ignoring your accomplishments, portraying all of your assets as liabilities, and you're too busy trying to make friends to fight back. They're making you look like a wimp, and the American people can't stand a wimp - regardless to how nice a guy he is. You may feel that you're being reasonable and remaining above the fray, but that's not the public perception. even as I write the American people are beginning to ask themselves a very pertinent question - how can we trust this man to protect us from Osama Bin Laden when he can't even stand up to Dick Cheney?
You should also ask yourself that question, because the the Republican strategy has absolutely nothing to do with substance. It's all about perception. Ask Jimmy Carter.
So what should you do about this situation?
Fortunately, growing up in the inner city was instructive in this area as well. Most young boys in the hood learn very early in life that if they want to save themselves a lot of unnecessary fighting, they should grab the biggest bully in the crowd and wear his butt out. Thereafter, everybody else will leave them alone. That's exactly what you need to do to Dick Cheney, and it's really not such a daunting task, since most bullies are actually wimps in disguise - that's how they know who to target.
So your rehabilitation should start with revealing Cheney for the wimp that he really is - and I guarantee you, he's undoubtedly one of the biggest wimps in Washington - he's simply been hiding behind the power of his executive position for the past eight years, and he's learned the value of playing the strong silent type. But in spite of the foreboding image that he's carefully cultivated, don't forget, this is the very same Dick Cheney who hid behind his wife's apron strings to avoid having to defend this country in Vietnan - five times. Thus, it's easy for him to play tough now, when it's other people's lives he's placing on the line.
So with just a minimum amount of pressure you're going to find that Cheney's not only a wimp, he's a wimp without character. The minute he begins to feel any kind of personal jeopardy he's going to start throwing people under the bus, then all of their crimes will begin to unravel.
You can begin this process by simply embracing the resolve to follow the rule of law. Unleashing Attorney General Holder to do a full and unfettered investigation of the Bush Administration's corruption and war crimes (just like the Republicans would surely do if the situation was reversed). Thereafter, there's a literal certainty that the fingers of Bush and Cheney's corruption will creep so deeply into the Republican party that they won't have time to think about anything else but saving their own butts. Being the weasels that they are, then they'll begin to re-discover the virture of public service, in an attempt to generate goodwill in order to save their
Then you should setup a public relations office in the White House to both coordinate your initiatives and trumpet your accomplishments. In the area of healthcare, for example, you need to do more than just talk to the people about the hardships that the private insurance industry has visited upon the America - you need to demonstrate it by going about the country and gathering up people who have personal hardships to share (with a special emphasis on finding Republicans who fought against the Clinton healthcare plan). Use these people to do political ads about what they had to endure, then run those ads continuously, all across the country.
The very same kind of ads could be produced using small business owners discussing what they were paying in healthcare costs five years ago as oppose to today, and the impact that it's had on their businesses and their ability to hire new employees.
I've also noticed that the economy is rebounding, yet I've heard very little fanfare about it. That's a big deal. The White House public relations office should be all over that. It seems to me that if you do nothing else in your term of office, the fact that you averted a second Republican generated Great Depression, and without GOP support, is something that the American people should know about.
And finally, I once heard you mention that you didn't support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. That's a complete giveaway to the Republican party, and it makes absolutely no sense.
The argument that the fairness doctrine hinders the right of free speech is totally specious. The fairness doctrine doesn't hinder speech, on the contrary, it promotes it. It mandates that if a broadcaster disseminates inaccurate or slanted information that it must provide equal time for opposing views. Thus, there's nothing in such a policy that would hinder free speech - it simply makes it costly and inconvenient to tell a lie.
The American people have just as much right to expect truth in content with respect to what goes into their minds (and the minds of their children) as they do with what goes into their bodies. One is just as important as the other, since accurate information gives people the necessary knowledge to act in their own best interest. And as every insurrectionist knows, depriving the people of accurate information is the easiest way to deprive them of their rights. That's why the GOP is dead set against this policy - because it's impossible for them to compete in an informed environment.
I continue to pull for you, Mr. President. I'm confident that you have the character to overcome this hurdle and go on to become one of this nation's greatest presidents. All you need is someone who's not afraid to give you a little tough love . . . and here it is:
Your heart is in the right place. All you need now is for your backbone to get the message. The Republicans are not going to respond to reason nor platitudes, so show 'em what you're made of, and give 'em hell. The American people are behind you.
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.