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Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015

To: the world's would-be sheriff, pt. 1

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Barack Obama,

It's been a very long time (1960, to be exact) since I've felt the slightest temptation to write the president at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, because, for one thing, I'm sure a burly, heavily armored, personal secretary, probably named Troy, with an advanced academic degree in bomb dismemberment, will now, first thing in the morning, open each envelope addressed to you, to make sure it doesn't contain a little dab of plastic explosive -- you know, just enough to obliterate the West Wing.

After that hurdle is cleared, I figure, the letter is now read by another (unarmed, unemployed 30-something English major, is my guess) guard, who reads it for content, and if it does nothing but try to buck up your sagging morale, tosses it into the Olympic-pool-size trash basket, meant for such letters as mine. This fellow's purpose is to minimize the huge amount of mail you must receive each morning (and afternoon). Question: do you feel obligated to write a personal letter in response to each carefully screened personal letter that is eventually allowed to cross your desk? Just wondered.

Last night (Monday, Sept. 21, 2009), I watched you appear on Letterman's CBS nightly show. Incidentally, nice play on the other Letterman guest, who brought with her to the CBS studio a small vegetable shaped like a perfect heart. Way to connect with "the Common Man," even though she was female!

I admire your on-going efforts to be "just one of the boys," even though you're black and no president white, black, or yellow, will ever pass himself off as just "one of the boys." I've got to figure that a bunch of NYC cops did their best, before the show, to read the facial expressions and body language of all 500 Letterman audience members, trying to smoke out the would-be assassin, or assassins, among them. But, of course, you must be always aware that each audience before which you speak, no matter how carefully screened, might conceal an armed assassin, especially in these times of economic turmoil, frustration over our far-off wars, and general sorrow. It's all part of the job. All the newspapers and Sunday morning TV-news programs, FOX News gloatingly, show your healthcare plan as being up against the ropes. Yet last Monday night on TV you appeared completely in control of your actions, those of your administration, and surely of your language.

In talking with Dave, you said you and your wife Michelle were trying your hardest to provide your two young daughters with as normal a childhood as you could, under the circumstances. "And that goes for their new Washington, D.C. friends, too. True," you continued, with a sly smile starting to cross your face, "when those youngsters visit the White House, they're all frisked by the Secret Service agents, just like everybody else." We all erupted in hearty laughter. When asked if you thought our abiding racism might account for the relatively rough treatment you'd received recently (including the South Carolinian senator's loud cry of "Liar!"), you had the wit to reply that you'd been black way before you were elected president.

You did yourself a world of good the other night, sir. You showed yourself to be as articulate as many of us already suspected. You showed yourself capable of clear reasoning and balanced thought. You demonstrated a ready but venom-free sense of humor, indispensable in a leader of any kind. The last president to display such a dry and infectious wit was JFK, and that was half a century ago. Finally, you showed yourself to be comfortable in your own skin, and that can give you a leg up. It may not protect you from an assassin's bullet, but it may just give an assassin pause before he squeezes the trigger.

You just got word from your number one man in Afghanistan that unless the U.S. beefs up its armed forces there by about 30,000, we may lose the war to the al-Qaida. Among the main reasons for our poor showing there are: America's armed forces are less interested in befriending the Afghan people than they are in killing the al-Qaida soldiers. Well, who can blame them? If it weren't for the al-Qaida troops, our young men and women wouldn't have to live and die in the god-forsaken reaches of that distant country, all for the sake of people with whom we Americans have nothing in common, except our persistent addiction to breathing. They're not like the English or French, they have a completely different system of values. In fact, like our other modern "allies," they probably hate our guts, for corrupting their youngsters with our American materialistic values, and for smothering their home-grown culture with our omnipresent McDonalds, on every corner.