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A LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
MEA CULPA
GIVE THE GOP A LANDSLIDE VICTORY

THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART II

THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART I
MONEY GRUBBING FEMALES, UNITE!
WE AREN’T ELECTING A HOMECOMING QUEEN
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
THE TOOTSIE ISSUE
Toddlers 4 President!
CRYING BABIES AND OTHER PRESSING MATTERS OF STATE
Democratic Convention 2016: How It Might Have Been
I’D LIKE TO FEEL THE BERN, ONLY…
AN UNFORTUNATE REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
On Matters of the Lie, the War, and Judgment
EGO, POLITICS, AND THE PRESIDENCY
On Getting What We Deserve
HOW JANUARY 2017 WILL LOOK
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A LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
 

23 December 2016

Dear Mr. President:

You must be receiving millions of letters, so the likelihood of your seeing this one is, I know, remote. But I feel compelled to write it anyway, in the hope that perhaps it might be passed along to you one day.

First some background: It think it was around 2006 when I first learned about Senator Barack Obama. I hadn’t watched the keynote address at the Democratic Convention in 2004, so I was late to the party. But I discovered in 2006 that there was a great deal of excitement circulating about this young Senator because he’d written a book. And I discovered he’d written a book because I was on a book tour for one of my novels, and I made a stop at The Tattered Cover in Denver. The night of my signing, I had a respectable crowd of something like 150 people. Pretty good for me. At the conclusion of my event, however, the bookstore staff began setting up a Disneyland type line that snaked throughout the room I’d appeared in, went down the stairs, wound through the store, and ended out in the street. I asked them who on earth they were expecting on the following day. Barack Obama was their answer.

By 2008, the entire world knew who Barack Obama was. The entire nation also knew who Michele, Malia, and Sasha Obama were. When election night happened and you were elected President of the United States, I was as excited as I’m ever likely to be again. Our country—steeped in a painful and deplorable history of actually enslaving other human beings and then fighting a civil war for the right to continue enslaving other human beings—had elected a man with an African father and an American mother—not to mention a highly unusual name—to be President of the United States. Truly, I had never expected to see this in my lifetime. I was beside myself with pride and with joy.

Like many people, I was filled with hope. Like many people, I saw such promise in the outcome of the election. Like many people, I did not anticipate the myriad ways in which the Republicans in the House and the Senate would toy with you and with their Democratic colleagues in those first two years of your Presidency. I did not consider the probability that in the next six years, the House and Senate GOP would seek to humiliate you and would even announce publicly from the mouth of Mitch McConnell that their sole mission was to make you a one term President.

Mr. President, through all of these eight years you have been the personification of dignity. You have been the embodiment of grace under pressure. There were moments when you could have crowed—the elimination of Osama bin Laden being one of them—but you did not do so. You never once sought to “get” the people who did everything they could to make you fail. Daily, you stood as a shining example of what it means to be a leader.

Your family has led as well. In eight years, your incredible wife has not put a foot wrong. As First Lady, she has been completely admirable. As First Mom, she has been extraordinary. She has been a dazzling public speaker and a spectacular private citizen (as the young black girls whom she befriended in London would readily confirm). As a mom to Malia and Sasha, she’s taught by example. In return, they’ve grown into beautiful young women whom everyone can be proud to call Daughters of the President. Your extended family has been the same: exemplary. Your sister, your in-laws, your relatives…I would think you had all taken “classy” pills, Mr. President, except I know that being dignified, generous, thoughtful, intelligent, and wise does not come from a pill but from the decisions one makes in one’s daily life.

Donald Trump managed to convince the requisite number of voters in the requisite number of states that everything about your Presidency has been “a disaster.” The millions of jobs you created, the health care act that gave millions of people coverage for the first time in their lives, the relationships you forged with foreign leaders, the federal lands you sought to protect, the oil drilling you tried to prevent, the auto industry you managed to save, the alternative energy systems you devoted resources to develop, the change in climate you agreed with other countries to work upon, the ruined economy you put back together: these were the “disasters” that persuaded voters against all facts to the contrary that it was Donald Trump who could “make America great again.”

Of course, he will not do anything of the sort. While he will indeed do something, it isn’t likely that what he does will have much to do with greatness. For a great country is a country that takes care of the least of its people, lifting them up, opening their eyes, giving them opportunities, asking them to give the best that they are so that what is even better can be in their future. A great country extends its hand and offers its talents when another country faces disaster. A great country forges alliances to make the world a better place. But Donald Trump has no plan for this. He is, as he proclaims, a “deal maker.” But developing and nurturing a great country is not about making deals at all. It is about making opportunities, making strides forward, and making a future that is based on a firm understanding of both the present and the past. You understood this, Mr. President. Donald Trump with his lack of education, lack of philosophy, and lack of perspective does not and never will.

In closing, I’d very much like to say this, Mr. President. When you were in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre, I was lucky to be seated at a table right in front of the stage. I was luckier to be one of the people who got to shake your hand after your speech. It was, for me, a thrilling moment. Maybe not as thrilling as the night you won the election, but thrilling all the same. As I took your hand in both of mine, I said to you what I’ll repeat now, “God bless you, Mr. President.”

To that I will add what so many people are probably saying in the thousands of letters you’ve been receiving since the election: From the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul, thank you so much. For what you endured, for being who you are, and for standing as an example of what a leader can, should, and must always be.



- Elizabeth George
Whidbey Island
Washington State

 

 
 

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