Saturday, January 30

‘Free advice is worth the price.’ Robert Half (part deux)

Dear Mr. Obama,

Whew, you’ve been one busy beaver (in Canada that’s not dirty) this week: The SOTU, dangling the spending freeze, then this latest, the question and answer period in the dragon’s den. Er, I men, the congressional GOP room. It made for some exciting television unless you include the media coverage. (Couldn’t we just outlaw big media? They suck.) I managed to avoid most of the infotainment coverage however, and stayed with online feeds as much as possible. I visited my mom yesterday and she had CNN on, but I managed to escape with only a slight hemorrhage behind one eyeball and felt gratified by the knowledge that I’d squeaked out of a really close call.

Although I know you didn’t read my last missive, I think we were on the same wavelength on a few points. In the spirit of bi-partisan ship, even if I don’t qualify for that dynamic on account of my Canadian-ness, I thought I’d write another note to let you know how it all went down in my eyes, and to offer some more free advice. This also allows me to re-use a quote, which I love doing – it always makes me feel cheap and dirty in a sexy kind of way…

Anyway, in regards to the SOTU, I have to say that you almost lost me. The first half of the speech was so… so… motivating, but in an anti-motivating, ‘I’m listening to a speech intended for ten-year olds’ kind of way. And all of those disingenuous and fallacious standing ovations by a bunch of middle-aged corrupt men and women? Blech… It made my teeth hurt a bit in the way gorging on Halloween candy does. I was ready to rush myself to the hospital at one point to demand a shot of insulin. Instead, I said just about this very thing on the Whitehouse FB page and felt immediately better.

That desperate act allowed me to hang on for the second half of the speech which was, I’ve got to say, much better. When you started calling them out, each group, one by one, and instead of cheers garnered mutters and grumbles, then you had me. The looks on the faces of the Joint Chiefs and the Supreme Court made me feel giddy. And when you finally got around to threatening all of their corrupt asses by targeting the lobbyist system? That was beautiful, man, just beautiful. Like I said in my last letter, I think you’ll know that you’re getting somewhere when they all hate you utterly.

And the GOP question and answer session? Well, the Whitehouse blurb called your performance “inspiring”, but my impression fell a bit short of that. Gutsy, for sure, and very adequate. You did a hell of a job there, no doubt. I’ll be inspired when you do the same thing, just as publically, with the DNC representatives. When you call “your team” to the carpet just as directly and vociferously, then I’ll really be impressed. One of the CNN pundits suggested this very thing, in fact, but said that you should do it behind closed doors “obviously”. Not obviously, not at all. Make it public. Be a real leader and expect, nay demand, more of those on your side of the room than of those in opposition to you by ideological default.

Which brings me to today’s free (and worth every penny, dammit) advice.

I think you need to go much, much farther. Frankly, while the SOTU touched on a few nerves, you stopped shy of where I’d have enjoyed seeing you go. Too much wiggle room, my friend, too much. Same with dressing down only one side of the room in the Q&A: Not far enough by far. Thus, my advice to you, the thing that, I think, would make you an instant icon and the adored leader of the majority of the country, is the following:

Go independent. I’ll say it again: Cut your ties to the DNC and go independent.

No, seriously, I’m not kidding. It was the independent voters that elected you after all, so drop this façade of partisanship altogether and send the congress and senate a real message. You’ve been so politic in the way you’ve criticized the DNC and I think that you have to drop the gloves with them the way you’ve been willing to with the GOP. I think that, as much as I know that it might be political suicide, you should give the American population a sure sign that you are beholden to no one other than them, so take all of the red and blue ties out of your closet. Go with some really cool colors or, for serious occasions (they all seem to be serious ones these days), try some nice gray ones. And that’s only if you absolutely have to wear one because, like I suggested last time, those of us that think the system is a joke hate ties anyway.

You told the GOP representatives that you weren’t an ideologue and I like that. It mirrors much of the “whatever works” rhetoric from your book and I prefer believing that you are serious about that stance, so take that final great big leap and declare it to the country and the world in a tangible way. I’ll even give you a politically expedient out: If you really think that you can win a second term, wait until after the next election. Frankly, considering how massive your bottom-up support was, I can conceive of you running as an independent and winning. Now wouldn’t that be historic?

You keep saying that you want bi-partisan support, cooperation, and a non-partisan attitude, and this way you could really, really show you mean it. You could condemn the whole system then, without any doubt that you consider both sides of the aisle equally complicit in the corruption. You could declare a level of Presidential autonomy that would eliminate any appearance of ideological favoritism or compromise. I’d stand up and cheer. Hell, I’d apply for citizenship (whatever little hope I have that you can really change things down there, it is infinitely larger than the faith I have that Canadian politics can ever be redeemed). I’ll go straight to the border and swear my allegiance to the flag right there, and I hate, hate nationalism (outside of amateur junior hockey) with a passion, so I’m talking about a real sacrifice here.

I know what you’re thinking: It’s too soon; it would eliminate any chance to accomplish anything; I’d lose any momentum I have and betray the responsibility I have to put the public interest first; they aren’t ready for it yet. Excuses, all of them. Well, maybe not, but I keep hoping that you can be to the “last remaining super-power” (who the hell came up with that and how can they ignore China?) what Gorbachev was to the USSR. Break the broken system so much that something new has to be constructed to replace it. Shake ‘em up so bad they can’t go on like they have. Make it impossible to continue down this path of denial and corruption, and possible to actually move forward.

Then you might really change things. Aw hell, that might actually change the world.

Yours sincerely,


CC. The Whitehouse