Dear Mr. President,
I saw your speech about the oil spill, and I do know that it is important and I do want to comment on it. But tonight I can't seem to get past the overwhelming sadness of my friend's impeding departure to think about anything else. I know that I'll be fine, and that she'll be fine, and that the work she'll do with the Peace Corps will be exciting and fulfilling. I know these things, intellectually, but emotionally all I know is that my best friend is leaving and I'm going to be left behind while she moves on to a new part of her life. Foolish, right? I can't explain or excuse it. I've been watching our other friends, taking cues from the ways they express their own sadness, and coming to a much clearer understanding that we all manage these types of challenges differently. So, forgive me for taking it personally, but reading yet another op-ed from Maureen Dowd about their being a "right" way to respond to the Oil spill and you not finding it was a bit exasperating.
I think i would not be so irritated by this, if Dowd were the only one saying it. Instead, it seems like every talking head in the media, save those on the White House payroll, are leaping at the chance to suggest that you say or feel or pretend some emotion that they feel is the "right" response. The truth is, nothing is going to make us feel better, short of the spill stopping and the gulf being cleaned up and us all getting to live the way we've always lived. But that isn't going to happen. Nothing is going to make us feel better, so I hope that the White House isn't wasting too much time trying to pin down the perfect tone. Maybe every one in the media could stop worrying about how you sound and go back to writing about actual news. Every one responds differently to tragedy, and any one who thinks you're not serious about handling this because your response doesn't have the allegedly correct tone is simply not going to be convinced by anything.
The Republican response to this, which seems to be, "Don't use this massive and obvious lesson about the dangers of our consumption habits to try and change our consumption habits," is equally infuriating. I would rather have a tragedy be exploited, if it led to honestly corrective measures that would prevent it from happening again. I think that learning from our mistakes ought to be one of those things that transcends party or ideology, and if the Republicans have an honest disagreement over the cause of this spill or the best course of preventative action, they should feel free to propose it. Simply disagreeing with any proposed action because it is based on a tragically hard lesson is not leadership.
I'm so sad, in such a selfish way, tonight, that I suppose my opinion can't matter much on this subject. The only thing I know for sure is that there is no correct way to feel about this, and there is no way for the President to feel that will solve this problem. I wish Maureen Dowd would find something else to write about, and I hope that people wake up and realize how much we're all to blame for this tragedy. For now, I'm just going to say that I think you're doing the best you can, and, even if it's a long way from good enough, I'm grateful that some one is taking care of the hard things, while I am wrapped up in my own, considerably smaller, world.