By Denise Clay
To: Barack Obama, President of the United States
From: Denise Clay, political columnist
Re: The Hair of the Dog
How are you? I hope that this note finds you well.
I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while because I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve been getting it from all sides lately. When I saw your Labor Day speech on Monday you alluded to some of the grief that you’ve been taking from people, particularly Republicans hoping to make one of Willie Wonka’s Oompa Loompas the Speaker of the House with the Midterm Elections.
(Oops I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have made that remark about Congressman John Boehner. But you know you want to laugh. You won’t, but you know you want to.)
But to get back to what you were saying in Milwaukee on Monday, it’s true. Everyone has been talking about you like a dog and that includes progressives who don’t believe you’ve done enough for their causes as well as Tea Party activists who believe (a) you weren’t born in this country and (b) they should be able to threaten you with violence.
So since I get to take a longer view of your issues than you do because you’re right in the middle of things and are dealing with stuff like the economy and the War in Afghanistan, I figured I should send you some suggestions designed to turn your administration’s frown upside down.
Let me start off by saying something that you’ve probably figured out by now but didn’t want to admit to yourself: bipartisanship only works when the other side isn’t aiming a hatchet at your head.
Part of your problem Mr. President has been the fact that you’ve been far too willing to compromise with people who are more interested in re-obtaining power than they are with finding out where you might be able to connect. Being bipartisan is nice and even Christian, but it’s not very smart when the people you’re trying to reach out to are trying to kill you.
Secondly, I think that it’s about time for you to remember where you came from. As a movie fan, I’m sure that you caught the movie “The Untouchables.”
In this film, which was set in Chicago, Kevin Costner portrayed Eliot Ness, the Treasury department agent who brought down notorious mobster Al Capone, portrayed by Robert DeNiro.
Among the other members of the cast was Sean Connery, who portrayed one of Ness’s agents, Jimmy Malone. As a Chicago native, Malone tried to explain to Ness, a dude so straight he made Boy Scouts look like bank robbers, what he’d have to do to bring Capone down.
Malone believed that escalation was the way to go. If he put one of Ness’s men in the hospital, Ness should put one of Capone’s men in the morgue.
So while I understand that it is your nature to offer the Olive branch, it’s time, Mr. President, for you to consider doing things The Chicago Way.
The Republicans have tried their best to put your plans and what you’d like to see done in America in the hospital. They’ve tried every means of obstruction that a group with no good ideas of their own can come up with to try and stop the Stimulus plan, Health Care reform, and Financial Services reform and while they haven’t stopped these bills from becoming law, they’ve succeeded in getting them so watered down that they’re not even close to what you wanted.
It’s time that you put them and their nonsense in the morgue.
Now how do you do this, President Obama?
Well, for one thing it’s time that you stopped playing nice.
If you hear Republicans in Congress lying through their damned teeth regarding you, your administration or what you’ve managed to accomplish, call them on it. If they try to blame you for crap that their boy George W. Bush did, make them look foolish.
Don’t back down. I know that you’re not real fond of getting your Angry Black Man on, but it’s time you did. Nice isn’t going to cut it now.
Also, use your resources. Get on your Facebook page and talk directly to your friends. Use bully pulpits. You’re the President of the United States. You can get airtime from any television network that isn’t Fox. Talk directly to the American people. You’re better at it than your opponents and they know it. They’re counting on you to be too nice to do it. Prove them wrong.
Lastly, you might want to make some much-needed personnel changes.
When you announced that former Congressman Rahm Emanuel was going to be your Chief of Staff, I winced. Why? Because Emanuel was part of the Republican-Lite, centrist, Clinton/Democratic Leadership Council years. He was among those Democrats who were Democrats in Name Only. Between so-called Welfare Reform and the Telcommunications Act of 1996, they did no one but big corporations any favors.
And Emanuel was among those leading the charge.
Because of this, a watered-down health care reform bill and a near-total alienation of the people who actually carried you into the White House (I believe the term that he used to describe them was “looney liberals”) are the result.
If Rahm Emanuel wants to run for Mayor of Chicago, let him. And once he’s gone, hire someone with a set that’s going to work toward getting your vision realized, not watered down.
While you’re at it, get rid of Robert Gibbs. For a press secretary, he has too many brain farts. You don’t want a guy who has brain farts similar to Emanuel’s as your mouthpiece. You might want to come visit the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Black Public Relations Association when you start looking for a replacement.
Also, the next person that suggests to you that you take Hillary Clinton as your vice presidential nominee in 2012 should be fired and fired immediately. I barely trust her as your Secretary of State.
I know that a lot of these suggestions might be a little hard for you to digest right away. But if you don’t take some of these suggestions to heart, the next two years of your presidency are going to be so rough that Michelle might take Sasha, Malia and even Bo the dog and go back to Chicago.
Plus, the American people, a people who have already been through enough, are going to get more and more screwed by the folks who got us in this mess in the first place.
If you need any other suggestions, feel free to reach out. I’ll be watching to see what you do, so I’ll be happy to point stuff to you as needed. You still have time to make the changes you think we as a country need.
Let’s see what happens next.