AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

1380020511165.cachedDear Mr. President.

Since you have quoted my father on a number of occasions, always strategically, always with a political goal in mind, I thought you might like to know something about him as a man. Let me quickly add that this new Republican Party, which hardly resembles the party he belonged to, has quoted him shamelessly; I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that they have taken his name in vain. But the reason I’m not writing to them is, they don’t hold the highest office in the land. You do.You’re the president.  And if you are going to quote my father, you might want to learn from him.

We all remember your campaign tag of “no drama Obama.” Interesting that there has been one drama after another in your presidency, this last one  really tipping the scales. My father would never have thought to announce he wasn’t about drama. He just wasn’t. It was how he lived, how he conducted himself. If you live it, you don’t need to talk about it. He believed with all his heart that he was given a destiny to fulfill, that whatever he did as president was for the good of all Americans. That’s why he talked to the American people in the heartfelt way that garnered him the title of the Great Communicator. Mr. President, when you talk to us — on the few occasions that you do — you seem annoyed, as if this job you campaigned for is keeping you from something else you’d rather be doing. It seems like you don’t like us very much, and whether people agreed with my father or disagreed with him, they always came away believing that he liked them.

I’m with the majority of people who blame the Republicans more than you for the government shutdown. But here’s the thing: If 80% is the fault of the Republicans, you could have dealt with your 20% a little better. Announcing that you won’t negotiate is not showing leadership, it’s showing a pouting face to the country and the world. My father understood leadership. He understood that it’s a mix of strength, gentleness, and humor. He would never have frozen out the opposing party; he’d have charmed them, poured them a drink, told them stories, and by the end of an evening, a deal would have been struck. When I was bullied by a boy on my school bus, so badly I faked being sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school, my father told me to stand in front of him, smile confidently and pretend I didn’t hear his taunts. “He won’t know what to do if you don’t play his game,” he told me. He was right. It worked.

You have talked often about reaching across the aisle.But do you extend your hand with kindness, with an understanding that the person you’re reaching toward believes as fervently as you do that he is right? Or are you just following a political map? Here’s a story about my father: When he was a college football player, he used to pray before each game that God would let his team win. One day he realized the other team might be praying the same thing. He changed his prayer, and simply asked that God help him accept whatever ended up happening. He still played hard and true, he still fought to win, but he had compassion for the opposing team. He knew they were just as important in God’s eyes as his team was. That’s why, decades later as president, he could negotiate successfully with those from the other side of the aisle. He saw their humanity even if he thought they were wrong. He would never have insulted them, or frozen them out. He understood that Americans elect a president because they want that person to behave in ways that they might not be capable of. They want someone who can handle things better than they do, not someone who complains and grumbles in the same ways they do.

Mr. President, you should know that my father didn’t see the presidency as a job. He saw it as a calling, as a vital part of his destiny. He was not a perfect president; he was not a perfect father. But he believed we were all put here by God for a purpose, and he tried hard to fulfill his purpose on this earth. He had humility, and in that humility was great strength. He had a kindness toward other human beings that transcended political boundaries. That’s what brought this country to a standstill when he died. Maybe people are born with those attributes, maybe they can learn them. I don’t know. I’m trying hard every day to learn from the man whose DNA runs through my veins. Maybe you could try a little harder to learn from him too.

19 Responses to AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

  1. Tommy R. Donovan says:

    This was beautifully and well written. Right to the point and it hits home. One of the best lessons I recall in bipartisanship between the two parties– is how your father and Speaker O’Neill, though at times had hard pressing aisle issues, they were friends. There was something I read once, I believe in Speaker O’Neill’s autobiography, that said no matter the day, the issue, the arguement– politics left the door after 5pm and they would have a drink. This kind of mutual friendship is something that ended up benefiting out country as it brought parties and issues together. We don’t see that today– and haven’t since January 1989.

    • valerie clubb says:

      Patti,

      as a ‘boomer’ that was raised in a God-fearing Republican home, all i can say is “here-here!”; “atta-girl!”; “amen!”; “you go, girl!”!!!

      this conservative boomer feels someone gave voice to my feelings.

      thank you!

  2. Patti, your insights and clarity of thought continually amaze me.

  3. Hal Wright says:

    Patti, this is so spot-on. Perfection!

  4. David Joyce says:

    Wow, powerful letter. I hope for his sake, and for that if our country, the President reads this.

  5. Alyse Hart says:

    Patti,
    You tied it all together so beautifully. No matter what side you are on this sets it all straight.

  6. Danny Herron says:

    Thank You.

  7. cchase says:

    well done

  8. Jim Delurgio says:

    What an amazing letter! You obviously picked up the Great Communicator gene!

  9. RichardF says:

    I don’t agree at all. It’s disappointing to me that only 80% of Americans understand the Republicans are 100% to blame, but I don’t feel it’s the president’s job to correct such errors. It’s the job of the press. President Obama did all those things, they rejected the invitations, he continues and they throw it in his face. Most of us are delighted he’s found some backbone. “No more Mr. Nice Guy” suits me just fine. But the rot afflicting our press corps runs much deeper.

    What I find most confusing to understand about your argument is what he’s expected to “negotiate.” Excuse me? Romney’s decisively rejected platform, from last summer? What? No one ever explains that, although the stenographer press corps turned up the echo machine and a lot of people are starting sentences with those words. They simply make no sense.

    David Frum said today we should have a crisis like this every few weeks—and that’s exactly where your argument leads, but I think Mr. Frum meant it as sarcasm.

    I agree that your writings are generally thoughtful and I always look forward to reading them. Meaning no disrespect to you your father, or the other commenters—I think this post completely misses the mark. The Republicans hope to see the billions *their* actions will cost the country disappear in the big number they’ll say is Obama’s legacy, and for superficial analyses such as the one above to gain traction with superficial thinkers. But we are better than that, and they have failed.

  10. Carolyn says:

    Very well said.

    • FMV says:

      Nice letter about your father. However, it is not appropriate for President Obama. Your father’s Presidential environment and President Obama’s environment are totally different. No explanation needed. President Obama is exceeding all expectations despite constant obstructionism. May God continue to bless President Obama!

  11. Winde says:

    Thank you Patti!

  12. Jessica says:

    I may be a little late to this gathering, and I rarely take time to comment on any article or publication, but I have to say something.

    Patti, I applaud this letter. So refreshingly eloquent in a time of such childish and nasty rhetoric from both sides, from all sides, from the top down. Policies may separate us, but I can tell your parents raised a smart gal.

    HOWEVER. The comments (FMV & RichardF) from people that still are so ignorantly duped by the mainstream media and the White House make me laugh, they really do. I cannot even get upset at them, because folks that truly blame the Republicans and love Obama are a dying breed. Uneducated, easily manipulated, Kool-Aid drinkers that praised Occupy Wall Street and think that government should run their lives. And I laugh. I “LOL”, as they say.

    FMV and RichardF, thank you for reminding me how grateful I am for the ability to think and reason. You’re proof that everyone does NOT have these qualities.

    God Bless America & the 2nd Amendment.

  13. DavidB says:

    FMV’s comment above is dead-on. I liked your father more as a person than as a President. Obviously I couldn’t know him personally, but the recurring persona that’s remained unchanged over the years includes a down-to-earth decency and his conviction of what was right. Even if I didn’t agree with many of his views, I still had respect for the man. However, the toxic polarization of today’s political environment makes it impossible to do what your father did with the Congress during his presidency. It’s comparing the proverbial (okay, cliched) apples and oranges. In the current Congress, there isn’t an opposition leader within light years of Tip O’Neill’s savvy and reasonableness. The wingnuts that you recognize in your essay as having co-opted the party, transforming it into an unrecognizable chimera, refused to accept President Obama’s hand every time he reached out in his first term, even when he made offers against the wishes of much of his own party. They’ve remained obstructionist ever since and will continue to weigh down our political process, and progress, until they either shoot themselves in the foot (in which regard I support the 2nd Amendment) or break off into a third party. Also, besides your father having been a well-liked movie star who’d been familiar to much of the electorate for years, he was white, whereas many of those who elected Tea Party candidates will never forget that President Obama is not.

  14. Josie says:

    The first time I ever voted I did so for your father. I voted for him the second time, as well. I was proud of what he did for our country. I wish Romney would have won because I think he had that love for the citizens of the USA that is lacking in Obama. I am not looking forward to the next election because it seems impossible for anyone with any sense to be elected at this point in time.

    Thanks for writing this. You made me think back to some better days…I was just lucky that I got to live life in the 80s. It was all so much better then. I’d gladly give up my cell phone (and every other modern convenience) to go back again.

  15. Connie Terpstra Dowell says:

    Jessica, very well said. Patti, this was magnificent~!

  16. Sandy Snyder says:

    Jessica** loved your comments. Patti your letter was was very good. I just can’t understand what some people think Obama has done is so great. Clinton taught our children that oral sex isn’t sex and Obama is teaching children the answer is “I didn’t know” or to blame everyone else. I hope that change happens in 2014 & 2016.

  17. Carol Shelby says:

    Beautifully said, and reaffirmed my opinion of your wonderful father. Thank you, Patti.

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