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Seriously President Obama WTF?


by Jerry Kolber

Time for an open letter to President Obama:

Dear President Obama,

Dude.Seriously? WTF?!?!


We elected you on a huge wave of populist support for change we could believe in. You blew me away not just with your willingness to take tough positions in opposition to the policies that had got the country into the biggest fear-based mess I'd seen in my time walking this planet.  Even more than that you got me excited with your presence; I thought, here's a guy who can inspire us to get it together as a community rather than a consumeropolis.

So, okay, you couldn't really get us out of Iraq like you promised.   Well okay, since it was first a war on WMD that didn't exist, then a war on terror, which is also a concept rather than an opponent, then a war on behalf of democracy and "mutual interests" (let's not even ask what that is), we never really were in "combat mode" in the first place. So instead of a few hundred thousand troops in a tiny country now we'll have 50,000.  That's a start, but it's not what you promised, and converting combat troops who've been trying to support an emerging democracy to "advisory troops" trying to support an emerging democracy feels a little like the balls-in-a-cup game, but at least we are drawing down our forces.

So, okay, you promised transparency. You promised you'd do everything you could to end the backroom politics that's turned off so much of the country from wanting to participate. No, more than that: you specifically promised that every non-emergency bill that you were meant to sign would be on the White House website for five days for public comment before you signed it. I understand that promises made in campaigns sometimes don't work out in the real world.  But how about doing an address where you explain to us exactly why you can't keep your promise of transparency? (I know, I know, it would be an illusion of transparency anyways, but explaining that to us would make us feel like partners with you again instead of questioning why you broke this promise).

And okay, I was totally down with the idea of some of the people in the country paying a bit more in taxes because they made a lot more money, even if that eventually might include me. I'd love to see our education system improved, our healthcare system actually providing healthcare, and a revitalized infrastructure for energy and transportation - a "rising tide" for all boats, and if I have to pay an extra three or four percent of my income to see that happen, sign me up.  But your messaging on economy, healthcare, and energy has been wandering at best, confusing and contradictory at worst.  

On energy Mr. President, I had hoped for a massive "New Deal scale" effort to inject cash into every community to remake our country's energy infrastructure with green and clean energy. That's a no-lose proposition: it would have created jobs, invested in our future, helped the environment, and mobilized an entire business sector to get to the forefront of technology and efficiency.  But instead we threw far more money than we needed to at the black hole of the bank bailout, and the move to clean energy, jobs, and the environment continue to suffer.

I guess what I'm getting at Mr. President is this:  I think you're doing a decent job, and I can't imagine the pressure you're under every moment of your day.  But what I do know is this. You got us excited because you weren't quite what we thought of as a Democrat or a Republican. You were the long-shot who came from behind, the first-time "can you believe it" pony with a history of energizing communities and getting real work done for real people. 

But what troubles me from your first year and a half in office is this.  You seem to bend over backwards to appease the conservative politicians and voters who can't stand you, but you'll never be "right" enough for them no matter how much you try to make concessions. By now you know that their efforts towards bi-partisanship cooperation are facile trickery. So stop playing Charlie Brown to their Lucy.  The farther you lean to the right, the more you leave the rest of the country - the majority that actually, unequivocally voted you and your mandate in to office nearly 700 days ago - scratching our heads, annoyed, confused, getting a little bit angry, and wondering why a guy we were so sure was going to take a firm stand spends so much time worrying about policies, compromise, and government as usual.

I may not have agreed with George W. Bush, Mr. President, but I sure as hell always knew where he stood; even before he opened his mouth I knew what position he was going to take on an issue.  And we thought that was true of you too sir, based on the eloquent but tough talk you delivered in the campaign.  If you need help clarifying your message and getting back to the core of who you are, I'm happy to help - I even know some people who can teach you meditation, which is a great way to stop over-identifying with external feedback and stay true to what you know is the right thing for you to do.  Just let me know.

It's not too late to excite and inspire us again Mr. President. You've got considerably more than half your term left to take a breath, re-center yourself with who you are, stop pandering and wandering and get back to who you promised to be.  Even if you don't, I'm still grateful for all you've done, but you've got an enormous opportunity here to help make this country a community again.  Don't waste it.

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I'm Lovin It

Hey Matt, thanks for relaying the message. Now if he would only do that a little more often, and to the Republicans, instead of me, we'd be getting somewhere.

Ethan, he has my vote too, and you have my vote as his new chief of staff.

And like I said, Barack, gimme a ring. Call me. We can help you with your message. call me? 'k?


Chief response

I was talking with Obama about this post, Jerry, and he said to snap this photo as his response to you. I don't know what it means. It looks like he's just got an itch.

Not sure what happened - I do

Not sure what happened - I do think he will end up being seen as a very good policy president.

But I think there are two things that happened. Just my uninformed opinion.

1) He thought campaigning was about messaging and governing was about policy and compromise. In this day and age, as Bush proved, governing is about MESSAGING clearly, loudly, and without wavering. It's not about what you do so much as it's about how you make people FEEL about what you do. He seemed to have such command of this fact during the campaign, and then totally lost that command during the stimulus and the healthcare debate.

2) The bipartisan inclusion was a wrong strategy (good message, bad strategy). He should've made this message clear, but behind the scenes he should've strongarmed the opposition at every turn, because you can't compromise with those whose sole (stated) purpose is to obstruct and destroy your work. The 2008 election was an armwrestling match - he had them 90% beat, and he let his opponent up for no clear reason. And the opponent, in this case, would never grant him the same courtesy.

He has my vote in 2012, and he has my support as a highly decent man, but he could learn a bit more from his predecessor on controlling the narrative. The narrative is where the power lies.


And how!

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