Dear Mr. President,
My mother, who has been a Democrat as long as I've known her, was surprised to receive the "2009 Obama Agenda Survey" from RNC chairman Michael Steele. She was kind enough to share it with me, knowing I, too, enjoy a good laugh. It has me musing on the things that make me a Democrat. The thought that Democrats don't send out surveys this absurd (or, if we do, that we at least have a more professional editor,) is particularly comforting.
An example question:
"Do you agree with Barack Obama's budget plan that will lead to a $23.1 trillion national debt over the next ten years?"
My response options are "yes", "no", and "no opinion". First of all, the 2010 budget is 2.381 trillion dollars and 140 pages of information so dull I can't stay awake to read the table of contents. Do I agree with all of it? I don't even understand all of it! If I did, how could I have a one-word opinion about something so complex? How many people, looking at this survey question, have read enough of, or even about, the budget to be able to answer that question intelligently? Even if given a week to study, and an unlimited word count with which to respond, I could not feel confident about answering that question completely, so the idea of checking a box next to "yes" or "no" is laughable. Do the people this survey was intended to reach not recognize that they are being manipulated to provide meaningless statistics to support equally meaningless talking points? And don't even get me started on the wording. I may have had no love and little respect for President Bush, but I always referred him as such, and Chairman Steele should know better than to sign his name to something that doesn't respect, at least, the office of the Presidency.
Last night I watched the 60 minutes report on the revelations Game Change provides about the 2008 campaign. A friend had expressed his shock at Steve Schmidt's treatment of Sarah Palin during the interview, which made me curious to see it. I thought it was courageous. Clearly, Mr. Schmidt is not worried about his own reputation. Anderson Cooper obliquely calls him out on putting politics ahead of patriotism by selecting some one Schmidt himself sees as obviously unqualified for the VP nominee, but Schmidt can always just call that "gotcha journalism." What's truly brave about his interview is how fearlessly he risks his future as a campaign director. I know if I were a Republican running for office in 2010, I'd want some one who at least waits for the concession speech to finish before he find the nearest camera and starts telling the liberal media elites how it was all my fault that we lost. Seriously, is this man what passes for a professional political operative these days? Has he never seen an episode of West Wing?
As a Democrat and die-hard Tina Fey fan, I'll admit I was sad to hear that Sarah Palin will be joining the Fox 'news' team and unlikely to pursue the 2012 Presidential nomination. As much as I appreciate a race with some elements of suspense, the sight of you and her on the same debate stage would make for an entertaining evening. The erstwhile governor of Alaska represents everything that is wrong with the GOP. She's an insubstantial reactionary who talks in soundbites and bumper sticker slogans. "We've got room in Alaska for all of God's creatures- right next to the mashed potatoes!" Seriously, does she know she ripped that off from some one's T-shirt or does she think she made it up?
Palin or no, the Republicans don't have a serious contender for 2012. Yet. They seem to be counting on Democrats to provide the tools of our own destruction, by angering their base enough to get them to organize against you. Now, I can't claim to have done much to help you get elected. I voted, wrote a blog on Daily Kos, and spent a few hours calling voters in Washington and Montana. This time around, even if I'm not the most impressed with your presidency thus far, even if you accomplish absolutely nothing for the next 3 years, I swear to God, if the RNC keeps sending this anti-intellectual BS to my mother, I'll go door-to-door in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida for your re-election. And I hate Florida. Which, I suppose, is to say that, between being their own worst enemies and eating their young for a chance to meet Anderson Cooper, the Republicans may have more in common with Democrats than any of us would like to admit. As much as I'd like to see the congressional Democrats take a few pages from the Bush-era playbook on party unity and efficiency, I'll comfort myself with the fact that we control the House, the Senate, the White House, and they're giving new meaning to the term "sore loser" and sending out push-polls that reek of desperation.
All joking aside, I'd really like 2012 to be about more than just beating the Republicans. If I promise to spend the next 3 years learning more about the budget, do you think you could promise to spend them making 2008's victory mean something more concrete? I'll probably need better material for the swing states.