Saturday, September 03, 2011
Dear Mr. President: LEAD!
It's painful - really painful - to listen to those who supported you and voted for you and had great hopes for you now use words like "flabbergasted," "disappointed," and, yes, even "disgusted" and "angry".
I know. I know. Being a leader is not a popularity contest. However, followers usually say things like "flabbergasted," "disappointed," "disgusted," and "angry" when their leader has actually done something to demonstrate leadership.
I know how harsh that sounds. I'm not ignoring what you have been able to accomplish. Besides Health Care Reform - which, unfortunately, did not reform enough - you have been able to do things that, for the media, are not "sexy" or "controversial" enough to sell papers or air time.
For example, you have enacted the largest reform of student aid in 40 years, expanding Pell grants for low-income students and providing the means by which struggling students could refinance their loans.
Your administration also established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and cut salaries for 65 bailout executives. The banks have repaid 75% of the TARP funds, bringing the cost down to $89B as of June 2010. And, you have closed offshore tax safe havens, tax credit loopholes.
Despite all the hype about the "debt ceiling", the federal deficit actually shrank 8% year-on-year. And while unemployment is still a HUGE problem - in July 2011, the unemployment rate was 8.2 percent for whites, but 16.8 percent for blacks and 11.3 percent for Latinos - 682,370 jobs were created under the Recovery Act between January 1 and March 31, 2010 and the U.S. economy added 90,000 jobs in April, 2011.
In terms of civil rights, I am most thrilled about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which instituted equal pay for women. Your administration also provided $12.2 billion in new funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act though the American Recovery and investment Act. Additionally, you issued a Presidential Memorandum extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, as well as one in April, 2010 protecting gay and lesbian partners’ visitation/healthcare decision-making rights.
Your administration also passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. And you supported the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and have said that the "Defense of Marriage Act" is indefensible in court.
While I applaud all of these - and so many other - accomplishments, I must say that I am most disappointed in your consistent capitulation to the Tea Party. I understand. Most of these guys function like school yard bullies when they're not behaving like home-grown terrorists.
Here's what I've learned about bullies and terrorists: You don't negotiate with them. It only gives them power they neither have nor deserve.
So, why do you do it?
The final straw for me was when you requested a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, September 7th, and the Speaker of the House informed you that this was "not a convenient time", and so you rescheduled for Thursday the 8th.
Are you kidding me?
You are the President of The United States of America! You are the Leader of the Free World. And, you capitulate to the petulant, overly tanned, teary-eyed Congressman from the 8th District of Ohio?
On a meeting?
Oh, I'm sure your mother told you to always "rise above" this sort of pettiness but I have to tell you that any points you might have once earned for "staying classy" are now being lost under an increasing flood of anxiety about unemployment and the continuing fragility of the economy.
Here's the thing that makes many people most anxious: It is painfully clear that the Tea Party people are so outraged and incensed that a Black Man is in the White House that they will do everything at every turn to embarrass you.
Indeed, they are trying to emasculate you - the way racist bigots have always done.
When you don't stand up to these bullies, you not only give them power they don't have, you give them a psychological win. You don't come off looking classy. You come off looking like a wimp.
Look, I know you're not a liberal like John or Ted Kennedy. You don't have the same agenda about the poor that they did - and many of us continue to carry close to our hearts.
You're not the next great Martin Luther King, Jr. That was always unfair to shackle you with that expectation. For one thing, Dr. King was not an elected official. He held no public office. To expect a President of the United States to lead like a prophet is not only wrong, it's dangerous.
All that being said, the hour has come and now is, Mr. President, for you to lead.
As you unveil your employment plan on Thursday night, I hope you take every opportunity to expose the embarrassing shenanigans of the Tea Party for what they are: political bullies who are committing racist, salacious, obscene acts of domestic terrorism - all in the name of Jeee-ssssuuuus.
Please avoid rhetoric that tells us we have to "work together" as Americans to put people back to work. The People of the Tea Party are not going to work with you. Indeed, they are going to try to cut you off at the knees and laugh at you when you fall.
Don't. Let. Them. Do. That.
They don't care how many hundreds of millions of Americans they will hurt. They only care about emasculating you and making sure you fail so that they will get into power.
And then, God help us!
Right now, we need a leader - a strong leader - who doesn't care about politics but cares passionately about the founding dream of "liberty and justice for all" in this country.
Here's the thing, Mr. President" If you do not have "liberty and justice" for yourself, how can the rest of us enjoy those "inalienable rights"?
If you do not claim this for yourself, how can any of the rest of us have a chance at claiming them for our selves?
If you do not do your own job, you can not create jobs for the rest of us.
I cast my vote in 2008 for you because I though you were a person who could .... would . . . lead this country out of the wilderness of the past 30 years of Reagan's "Trickle Down Economics" and into an economy "of the people, by the people and for the people" inspired by the likes of FDR.
I want to see that man back on my TV screen on Thursday night. I want to see him back in the White House. I want to see a person who knows he is a free man leading the rest of the Free World in pursuit of that goal and that dream and make it a reality.
I know you can do it.
I'm praying you will.
Please, Mr. President. Just lead.
You'll be amazed how many of us are waiting to follow.