by Deborah Mathis, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Let me state this from the start: I do not, have not ever and doubt that I ever will want to be president of the United States. I would not take the job if it were handed to me on a silver platter.
The perks are fantastic, no question – nice crib, great rides, for sure – but the drawbacks and risks are off the charts. I’m neither as cool as Barack Obama, as cavalier as George W. Bush nor as smart as Bill Clinton; I don’t have their secret weapons for coping with universe-sized stresses.
White House aides would never have to worry about the proverbial three a.m. phone call disturbing my sleep. The limping economy, the terror threat, and global warming, alone, would make me a hopeless insomniac.
I fully appreciate that the presidency is a uniquely exacting job and that, unless you’ve been there, you can’t know what it’s really like (and this does not even take into account the top secret things a president must consider).
But, far be it from me letting a little thing like the absence of yearning or experience stop me from putting in my two cents. Though I am flung far from the august chambers of the West Wing, I sit at the little computer desk in my modest quarters to offer this advice to the man in the mansion downtown.
You said in your first weekly address of the new year that one of your resolutions for 2011 is to work hard at strengthening the middle class.
Well, I’m afraid that ideal suffered a severe setback when you signed onto a tax break for the rich folks, who are already blessed with more loopholes than I can count and, in many cases, manage to escape the tax hammer altogether.
Had they been required to shoulder more of the burden of bailing the country out of its economic imprisonment, the middle class would not have an unfair share of the heavy lifting.
But, since that’s a done deal, I pray you will add the following to your list of resolutions:
1. In Saturday’s address, you said, “I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through.” To quote you from your nomination acceptance speech in 2008, “Enough.” We’ve got that you’re a good guy – civilized, congenial, cooperative and all that.
Don’t need to hear it anymore. When you go to those town hall meetings and rallies, you’re pretty good at telling it like it is – that the opposition on Capitol Hill is about self-serving, not principled, intransigence.
Try something like this: “I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea, but our country doesn’t have time for people who object for the sake of objection or grandstanding or bravado, and neither do I.
Either you work with me like a rational, responsible, well-adjusted adult or you’re on your own in explaining to the American people why you sold them out.”
2. Do I ever wish that Adam Clayton Powell were still around. But, since he’s long gone, please do lend an ear to some of the old politicos whom you can surely trust. I’m thinking former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, former California Speaker of the House Willie Brown and perennial wheeler-dealer Vernon Jordan, to name a special few. Your Chicago crew is clearly devoted to you and a smart bunch. But, as you must concede, official Washington is a peculiar place. Get thee some veteran whisperers, sir.
3. Heard that you’ve been reading biographies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton lately. Resolve to sleep with Robert Caro’s “Path to Power” and “Master of the Senate” under your pillow in hopes that some of Lyndon Johnson’s tough but wily wisdom seeps through the satin.
4. Re-calibrate your rhetoric. Oh, how you wowed us in ’08. Brought us to our feet, repeatedly. Brought tears to our eyes. Made our hearts race with anticipation and hope. You’ve got the “it,” no doubt. But, it’s becoming too predictable, too patented.
Add some flavor to the stew. A few gestures or changes in expression and tone. The occasional furrowed brow, gritted teeth, heart-wrenching pauses or pointed fingers, even a little desk pounding would be provocative. As it is now, kicking off the annual White House Easter Egg Roll sounds as important as passage of the START treaty.
And, while you’re at it, might you stop saying “my secretary of state” or “my budget director”? Try substituting “our” for “my” and see how that works for you.
5. Respect and reward the millions of earnest supporters who swept you into office two years ago. Unlike the shameless, we want you to succeed. Our reasons may vary, but we understand that we all stand to benefit if your presidency is as progressive as it is historic.
We are the bird in the hand, Mr. President. Please resolve to always, always be mindful that we are worth two in the bush.