An open letter to President Obama. We electors of these
United States have spoken. Here’s what we said…. and
what you must do.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Dear Mr. President:
The people of the United States have spoken… with
a message that must have been gall and wormwood
for you. Because you see, sir, these elections —
endless, expensive, full of expletives undeleted
and charges of every kind and variety… were all
about just one person… and that person is YOU.
You must feel today as Abraham Lincoln felt
when once handed his lunch by the voters: It hurt too
much to laugh, he said, but he was too big to cry.
(By the way, another Illinois politician named Adlai Stevenson
used this memorable line, when he too got sucker punched
by the voters and was denied the White House,
twice. It seems Prairie politicians should keep
these words handy, to be used when their own
native wit fails.)
Unlike Stevenson, however, you remain in the
Oval Office for at least two more years. And, of
course, you want to stay there beyond that as well.
That’s why I’m sending this letter… so you will understand
why you went at your inauguration from a man
revered by millions who thought you could walk on
water, to a man whose head is now barely above
water, dog paddling like crazy to stay afloat. First,
for the good of America, second for your own “legacy”
you must hear and heed what we just said via the
ballot box… and you must seize this moment of
humiliation, embarrassment and profound chagrin
to turn these bitter fruits into fuel for greatness.
Let’s review how you got to this place and what you
must do about it.
1) Your presidency has been more Harvard than Chicago.
On the opening day of the Kennedy presidency, revered
New England poet Robert Frost told the new chief executive this
memorable truth: “Be more Irish than Harvard. Poetry and power is
the formula for another Augustan Age. Don’t be afraid of power.”
Good, shrewd, succinct, New England advice. Take it.
I am writing to you today right across from the
Harvard Law School and its Law Review. You worked
hard to get both… but to save your presidency (and
propitiate an angry nation) you must now be more IIlinois
and Chicago than Cambridge. Cambridge is a
magic place, a civilized place… a place which draws the best
and the brightest from all directions. But Cambridge is a
bad model to govern from because we here produce
elitists… and you need kick boxers and jujitsu masters.
Yes, you can turn a neat phrase… but the moment for neat
phrases is gone. You must, in brief and again, be
more Chicago than Harvard… and this essential
transformation must start at once. Your presidency, sir,
and the improvement of America depends upon it.
2) You tried to do too much, too soon… and ended
up “jack of all trades master of none.”
Sir, we all know people who make promises they
can’t keep. It all sounds so good when you hear them…
but when you promise, then leave project after project unfinished,
you merely engender the very cynicism about
politicians and government you say you abhor; you become
your own worst enemy.
What the country wanted from you was jobs. Put
Americans to work, sir, with real jobs and we can astonish
the world with our range of skills and a “can-do” attitude that
still defines us. Yes, we need health care. Yes, we
need better schools… and all the rest of those good
ideas we all want. But, first and foremost, we need jobs….
and when you selected other priorities you showed us
all that you just didn’t get it; that you were more Harvard
than Chicago. Because, sir, in Illinois (from whence I hail
myself) they get it: jobs, jobs, jobs. You didn’t like Richard
J. Daly very much, but he kept his ears open and
knew that a man without a job is a desperate man, a
hurting man, a man without hope.
You should have commandeered the Roosevelt Room
in the White House and turned it into your personal
command post… where the total focus was on jobs,
jobs, jobs. For you see,sir, we are now in a world war
for the protection of our way of life… and that way is
based on putting Americans to work in ways meaningful
Americans would have cheered you to the echo if
you established such a command post and had
overseen the execution of a Manhattan Project for
employment. If you stayed with it daily… and let
America see you at this work you would have had the
hopes and prayers… and unconquerable skills
of a great nation at your side, as well as the rightly
earned gratitude and reverence of millions.
Consider this: when the Great Fire of London took place
in 1666, King Charles II was advised to flee the city and
save his royal skin. But Charles Stuart, king for all that, made
a better choice: he went into the heart of burning London
and helped move the water buckets. He was burnt
and singed like his fellow Londoners. In the process
he was raised to a greater dignity… the dignity of a man.
Uunsurprisingly he was the most successful Stuart of
them all… because he engaged with his subjects, including
the mundane, prosaic, and dangerous.
3) Show us what you believe in.
Sir, you are a lawyer, superbly trained as such at that esteemed
institution across the street. But lawyers, with their “have gun, will
travel” approach to life are not a good model for the remainder
of your at-risk presidency. You need core beliefs. Your party
senses and Republicans charge that you are a man who believes
in little beyond your all-consuming drive for yourself. Very well.
You are ambitious and have, in British Prime Minister Benjamin
Disraeli’s notable phrase, climbed to the top of the “greasy
pole.” That’s the beginning of your career, not the end.
Now tell us that you believe, what you believe, and what
you will stake your presidency on. We hope it will be jobs
and the revitalization of America. Diminished, buffeted though
your president is, you can turn it all around by focusing all
on your hurting countrymen. Your great moments are yet
to come if you will commit, focus, live for them… and bring us safely
through this unabated storm.
We have spoken, sir, we electors of these United States. Our
message is not ambiguous. It needs no Harvard academician
to decipher, though they may say otherwise. It needs one man,
supremely placed for good, to use all his powers, all his
considerable gifts to enhance America. Your countrymen have
shown you and dramatically so just how strongly they feel
about the wrongful moves and misdirections of your first two
years. Listen to them for in this cacophony of restive voices lies
the majesty of the people. You have been disengaged from
them. Now reconnect and resurrect your presidency. Do this
and you will come to see the chastisement of today as
the best thing that could have happened to you… and America. Do
this and we will in due course bless you for rising up like the Phoenix
and winning back our trust, love, and admiration. All other courses
you pursue at your peril… and ours.
About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of
Worldprofit, Inc., www.worldprofit.com where
small and home-based businesses learn how to
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