Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Mr. President,

I hear you had a rough time the other day when you showed up to take questions from the media and citizens at your "Investing In America" appearance. Apparently, it was a lot like being taken the Principal's office, someplace I'm not sure you've ever been.

Before I get to the meat of my letter, I just want to take this chance to give you kudos for something. You appeared in public, talked without (as far as I can tell) a teleprompter and took unscripted, unapproved questions from people. Quite a step up from appearing on The View! Good job. Someday, if you keep this up, you might even have the ability to withstand questioning akin to Prime Minister's Question Hour (its on C-SPAN, I'm sure you get that on your cable plan.).

However, in reading the accounts of your appearance, it seems you are missing something. First, unless you know something that the general public does not, it appears that your majority in both houses of Congress is going to take a serious beating. Seriously. There appears to be a very good chance that you will lose the House of Representatives altogether, meaning that Rep. John Boehner is going to be the Speaker of the House.

Now, given that you and your party are way down in the polls, why are you refusing to debate Congressman Boehner? Right now, according to the averages at Real Clear Politics, there are more people in this country who disapprove how you are doing your job (45.3% to 49.8%). As a matter of fact, of the polls included in the average, you are only ahead in one, the Gallup Poll (47% approve/46% disapprove). In at least two of the polls, the margin is much starker. Both Fox and Rassmussen polls have disapproval to your conduct as president at more than 50% (Fox at 52% and Rassmussen at 56%).

The numbers do not get any better when you look at how people are viewing the Congress. The average of the major polls is that 71% of people disapprove Congress' work. Only about 22% approve. This would be important because your party controls both houses of Congress. Because of the majorities which your party took upon your election to the office of President, that means they have been working on your priorities.

Unless of course you want to admit that you cannot control the priorities of your own party.

And I really don't think you want to do that.

But back to what this means. You are way behind with the average voter. However, that should be nothing new to you, Mr. President. The way you have conducted your administration during the first 20 or so months in office indicates that you do not have a great feel for what the average voters want. Not only that, but in every single one of the major polls, those who answered stated that this country was headed in the wrong direction, by a margin of more than 30%.

What could make people so angry?

For starters, Mr. President, I think it stems from a lack of leadership. For more than a year, you all but abdicated a role in shaping the health care bill. Instead, you delegated it to Congress. Or at least you appeared to do so. The appearance to me and a large number of other people in this country is you acted as a cheerleader, urging the passage of some sort of health care bill, but without fully committing your views for a long period of time. Then, with health care reform hanging in the balance, you resorted to parliamentary tricks and last minute amendments to ram through a policy that few outside the drafters, including the people who would vote on the bill, actually understood. It is a bill that uses creative accounting to achieve the ends, accounting which only puts off a day of economic reckoning for this.

In short, the process was worse than sausage making. And the whole time, it appeared that you were more content to blame the Republicans than actually put forth the plan that you wanted to get through. That is not leadership. At least, not the kind that inspires people. Go back and read Team of Rivals to understand what leadership looks like, especially when you have to take on your own party at the same time as your are fighting a war.

The second thing is why did you seek the office of President? I ask this question because there is a large portion of this country that has serious doubts about whether you actually love this country. The job, given the hours and responsibility which is demanded of it, does not pay that well. In a sense, it limits what you are allowed to do after you leave office. However, the way you present America to the world indicates that more often than not, you are ashamed of this country.

Do we do stupid, violent things? Yes.

Do we do generous, charitable things? Absolutely Yes.

But theme of your trips abroad, even when broadcast back to us here in the States, is that you are off to some nation, apologizing for what this country has done. And that makes a lot of people angry.

The third issue, and this flows from the second one in particular, is that your administration, and you yourself Mr. President, appears to be tone deaf and removed from both reality and your citizens. How is this? First, there is the language that you use when talking about issues. From early in your administration, it appears that you were uncomfortable with the violence which threatens our country. This violence, by and large, is directed at us in the form of terrorist attacks orchestrated and carried out by militant Muslims. Yet, your administration does not talk about them as such. To you, they are "man-caused disasters". Furthermore, men and women of this nation's armed forces are not in combat, they are engaged in "overseas contingency operations".

Mr. President, do you think if you change the name, that you can wipe away the stain of war and bloodshed, while still engaged in battle? This is ludicrous. Whats more, it is insulting to your constituents. I have no idea how a Muslim in Jakarta, a jihadi in Yemen or a Taliban would interpret these terms, but I do not think, nor have I seen any evidence, that it is working to improve our image with the so-called "Muslim/Arab street".

But now we must turn to your disconnect on domestic policies. There is one thing that virtually everyone not in prison in this country cares about: their pocketbook. Until we move beyond capitalism to the Star Trek ideal economy, this is something that is going to be with us. People absolutely care about how much money they have to pay for the necessities, such as the roof over their head, the food they and their families eat, and how they will pay for when they get sick. And, to your credit, you have tried to deal with these.

However, your way of dealing with these issues has ignore both the reality on the ground and the experience of History.You promised you would save jobs. You promised that you would soften the harms caused by the recession and cut the recession's length. Accepting that President Bush did leave you with a mess, what did you do? You kept interest rates low and subsidized failures. Almost exactly what Japan did when they went into their recession in the 1990s. The results so far have been almost as bad, if not worse, than what the Japanese experienced.

What is your prescription for curing our economic ails now? Who the hells knows? One day its enact another massive spending bill that this nation will only be able to fund by going to credit. The next its the idea of a payroll tax holiday. All the while, you term what is going in in this country right now as a "recovery". Mr. President, how can you state that this country is in a recovery, when there are almost 15 million people out of work and unemployment rate of 9.6%? In fact, the unemployment rate, nationally, has not been below 9.4% since May of 2009.

Coincidentally, economists now say that the recession ended in July 2009. When unemployment was 9.4%.

Now, bad enough as the job market it, there is also the question of how people are going to afford things. With the passage of Health Care reform, your administration, and your allies in Congress, foretasted that insurance rates would fall. However, exactly the opposite has occurred. Health care insurance costs, meaning the premiums that everyone will have to pay under the law you signed, are going to be rising, on average, approximately 12.4%.

Not to be snide here, Mr. President, but at this rate, how long before everyone's health insurance will be in the so-called "Cadillac plan" class?

When questioned by people at your appearance today, you stated "there are a whole host of things we've put in place to make your life better." The "things" you cited included health care reform, financial regulatory reform, credit card laws, and making student loans more available.

So far, none of these "reforms" is having a positive effect on this nation. When added to the expense of your stimulus plan (which failed) and your mortgage plan (which failed), combined with your consistent lack of a clear vision for what you want to do to improve the lot of the average American who works, pays taxes, and generally wants to be left alone by their government, do you not see why people are hostile to your administration?

But going back to my initial question: why are you refusing to debate Congressman Boehner. Is it because it is beneath the dignity of the Office of the President of the United States of America to debate congressman? I think you tossed that argument out by appearing on The View. Is it because you think you will lose? If thats the answer, then why did you seek office in the first place? Your job is to lead. And sometimes that means clear expressing what your policy plans are going to be and having them withstand scrutiny. So far, you have skated by on both counts.

You claim to have ideas. You claim to stand for some ideals. Then as a voter Mr. President, I urge you put those out for people see and evaluate. Not in a controlled forum where all you have to answer are pre-approved answers, or in a venue such as today where you can evade the questions by issuing more attacks against your opposition. Instead, you should be out there, willing to argue that you and your administration have the right idea for this country. And the best way to do that is to debate the leader of the other side so that the American people can actually see what they are in for when they go to the polls this November.



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