Dear Barack Obama,
On this, the day of your 2010 State of the Union address, I would like to offer you some free advice regarding your speech.
First and foremost, shoot from the hip. We all know you could talk the garter off of a nun, but speak plainly this time. By all means, exercise your rhetorical skills and impress us, but do so as if you were speaking over coffee or a couple beers. Don’t spin anything or try to dazzle. Frankly, as inspiring as you can be, the shtick is getting a bit old. You need to be heard being sincere, not presidential; plain, not fancy. The people that elected you are pretty plain, you see. They are the moderate, independent middle of everything. They are the disenfranchised that saw in you and your beautiful speeches the possibility of a politician that was not one. Someone who saw what they saw.
So be that guy again. Talk plainly, even coarsely. I myself think that you should swear a few times. You should say ‘bullshit’ at least three times, and one of those should be in a sentence in which you are describing the disingenuous and partisan practices of the Republican Party. You could also call your own party to task while you’re on that topic, maybe throw in an F-bomb when describing how frustrating it was to watch your own party’s congressmen tear apart your health care bill like hyena’s squabbling over a kill, each one taking a nibble to appease one of their big money/no conscience, financial backers, leaving a proposal that is ultimately neutered.
And ‘balls’… use the word ‘balls’. As in: ‘I promise to grow a pair of balls in my second year as your president’. I mean, I truly admire the commitment you have made to non-partisanship, but come on; the GOP will be pouting over their loss for at least another six years, even if things continue as they have been and they reclaim the Whitehouse in three, so offer the olive branch every time and, when they blubber and cry about how unfair it all is, take it back and hit them over the head with it. Perhaps repeated concussions will improve their IQ.
I mean, I know that there isn’t really any difference between the Dems and the Reps, the blue and the red. Pretty much all of the elected officials (oh, please not you too – say it ain’t so) have corporate and special interest hands so far up their asses that they are practically muppets (to muppets everywhere – I apologize for the insult), but we, even those of us who just watch and have no say in US politics, all hoped so hard that you’d be different, that you’d do what you said, walk what you talked. I read your book, read and listened to your speeches and, dammit, I still want to believe that one person can beat the odds, make it all the way up there without completely selling out, and when they have the chance, will actually use it to make a real difference. I want to still believe that.
I want to believe what you said in your book about rising above it all, about throwing the old school out and ushering in a new era in the way politicians can work in service to their country instead of using their country and position in their own service. I thought you might be that guy. Lord knows, plenty of your fellow Americans thought you were that guy too; someone that actually cared more about getting shit done than what the polls said; someone who would sacrifice a second term if that’s what it would take to get the job done. You made them think you really care. Don’t let them down, okay?
So this is your chance to turn it around. Don’t wear a tie (I distrust people that wear ties), and go for that town hall look, only grubbier. Be earnest and sincere and that adorable bit of a geek that you are. Most of all, tell it like it is – no varnish, no illusion, no misdirection – just that facts. And then, after you say it, actually do it this time and damn the torpedoes. Do it not because it’s politically efficacious, but because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s honest and real. Be that guy and they’ll follow you. Right now they can sense the fear and smell the ubiquitous stench of the bullshit. You can’t keep doing that and think there will be a legacy worth leaving behind. Do something that’ll make the bad guys mad, mad enough to take a shot at you, and then you’ll know that at least you’re doing it with gusto.
The fact is, everyone that was so enamored of you back in November of 2008 is still waiting to see the guy in office that they saw in the campaign, and they are eager to follow that guy! So be him again. Start tonight. Take off the gloves and fancy ties and the smart suit jacket and put on a baseball cap and talk to them. They’ll follow if you can be strong enough to lead them. I promise.
And we, the rest of the world, will be hopeful too, if you do and they do, because if someone can actually redeem the US, then there’s definitely hope for everyone else.
Yours sincerely (mostly),