Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Anne LaMott to Obama on Healthcare: "You promised!"

Los Angeles Times OPINION

President Obama: Healthcare; you promised.

An open letter reminds the president of the major campaign vow that got him into the White House.

August 27, 2009

I am afraid there has been a misunderstanding since that election in 2008, during which 66,882,230 Americans cast their votes for you. Perhaps one of your trusted advisors has given you bum information. Maybe they told you that we voted for you -- walked, marched, prayed, fund-raised and knocked on doors for you -- because we hoped you would try to reunite the country. Of the total votes cast that long-ago November day, I'm guessing that about 1,575 people wanted you to try to reconcile the toxic bipartisanship that culminated in those Sarah Palin rallies.

The other 66,880,655 of us wanted universal healthcare.

You inherited a country that was in the most desperate shape since the Civil War, or the Depression, and we voted for you to heal the catastrophic wounds Bush inflicted on our country and our world. You said that you were up to that challenge.

We did not vote for you to see if you could get Chuck Grassley or Michael Enzi to date you. The spectacle of you wooing them fills us with horror and even disgust. We recoil as from hot flame at each mention of your new friends. Believe me, I know exactly how painful this can be, how reminiscent of 7th-grade yearning to be popular, because I went through it myself this summer. I did not lower my bar quite as low as you have, but I was sitting on the couch one afternoon, thinking that this adorable guy and I were totally on the same sheet of music -- he had given me absolutely every indication that we were -- and were moving into the kissing stage. Out of nowhere, I thought to ask him if he liked me in the same way I liked him.

He said, in so many words, no.

And Mr. President, that is what the Republicans are saying to you: They are just not that into you, sir.

This may have thrown you for such a loop that you have forgotten why you were elected -- which was to lead your people back to the promises of our founding parents. Many of us no longer recognized our country after eight years of Bush and Cheney, and you gave us your word that you would help restore the great headway we had made on matters of race, equality and plain old social justice.

People, get ready, you said; there's a train a 'coming. And we did get ready. We hit the streets. We roared, whispered, cried, whooped and went door to door, convinced that even if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had not
specifically dreamed of you, his dream of justice and equality and pride might come into being through your vision, your greatness, through the hope that your words gave us, through the change you promised.

He dreamed of a leader like you. Just like you. And something in the deepest part of this country's soul heard.

After eight years of Bush, and then the Palin nomination, we were battered and anguished and punch-drunk. But in rallying behind you, we came back to life, like in Ezekiel when the prophet breathes the spirit of bearing
witness and caring onto the dry bones, and those bones come back to life, become living people again, cherished and tended to.

We did not know exactly how you would proceed to restore our beloved Constitution. It seemed beyond redemption, like my kitchen floor did briefly last week after my dog, Bodhi, accidentally ate 24 corn bread muffins. You said you would push back your sleeves and begin, that it would take all of us working harder than we ever had before, but that you would lead. While acknowledging the financial and moral devastation of the last eight years, you said you would start by giving your people healthcare. You would do battle with the conservatives and insurance companies. You said in your beautiful way many times that this was the overarching moral and spiritual issue of our times, and we understood this to mean that you took this to be
your Selma, your Little Rock.

I hate to sound like a betrayed 7-year-old, but you said. And we believed you. Now you seem to have abandoned the dream. That is why moderates and liberals and progressives like myself all seem a little tense this summer. It is time to call your spirit back. We will be here to help when you get back from vacation. We want to help you get over the disappointment of Mr. Grassley's cold shoulder, of Mr. Enzi blowing you off, even that nice Olympia Snowe standing you up. We can and will take to the streets again, march and hold peaceful rallies, go door to door, donate to any causes that will help get out the truth of what a public option would mean. But we need you to shake off the dust of the journey and remember the promises of Dr.
King, and we need you to lead us toward what is no longer so distant a shore.

Do it for Teddy Kennedy, boss. Do it for the other Kennedys too, for Dr. King, for Big Mama, for the poorest kids you met on the trail, the kids who go to emergency rooms for their healthcare, do it for their mothers and for Michelle. Just do it.

Trusting you, Mr. Obama.

Anne Lamott
Copyright © 2009, <http://www.latimes. com/> The Los Angeles Times

Anne Lamott's latest book is "Grace (Eventually) : Thoughts on Faith." I listened to it on tape about this time last year, thanks to the encouragement of Fran who now writes on There Will Be Bread.
Anne is the bomb. Just my opinion.


Mary Ellen said...

We will be here to help when you get back from vacation.

She better work fast, he's leaving on another vacation to Camp David. I remember how upset we all got when Bush took so many looks like the same old same old.

claire bangasser said...

Thank you for posting this, Billie.
Now, we all have to get ready to help, right?

Maithri said...

Thank you Billie, this is powerful...

We all need reminders to stay true to our core beliefs... especially government officials in times of controversy,

Love to you and yours,


PS theres a post at my place called 'justice for all' which i thought might resonate with you.

an average patriot said...

Thanks Billie that was good! You know what is sick? Bush and Cheney did destroy the Constitution and destroy any semblance of order in the country and the world and now people are believing Cheney's lies and I am very concerned we will have another timely 9/11 and he will get elected and finish us and his fascist agenda off!

Dave Dubya said...

God knows it's got to be extremely difficult to not be assimilated into the DC Corporatocracy. The US government has been shifting to the right for so long now; it's hard to imagine any way to turn that around.

Audacity of hope brought us to this stage; now is the time for courage of conviction. Nothing short of ferocious boldness can get this momentum going.

Fran said...

I think she is great - and I thank you for linking to me.

He did promise... I understand political expediency, but this much at this time is completely and utterly wrong, wrong, wrong.

Border Explorer said...

Wow, what excellent observations...and they struck so many different chords. I felt affinity with every one of them, hope you don't think I'm just wishy-washy, because I recognize how across the board the responses were.

I'm getting pretty fed up with politics these days. I guess Obama is about the best calibre of president we can hope for in this country, but he falls far short of the mark of what I'd like to see. The kind of president I'd like to see would never get elected, I guess.

At this point I'm can only hope for something better than the worst kind of president that would be electable in this country.

Carol said...

I'm with you... I don't think that the kind of president I want would get elected - at least not in the near future.

Anne writes it so well. Thanks.

I hope Obama hears the message.

susan said...

It was Bill Maher who said recently, 'In the nine months since Obama was elected the Democrats have moved to the right and the Republicans have moved to the asylum'.

I hope this letter has been brought to his attention as it appears he's missed the emails and letters from everybody else.

Brother Tim said...

Thanks for sharing this, Billie. It articulates a lot of what I feel.

My first impression of Obama was a man with a good heart and honest principles. My hope is that I was right, and letters such as these may shame him, or serve as a reminder to why he was elected. He must do the right thing.

If not, then we have elected a black Harold Hill as our President, and have until 2012 to replace him with a third-party candidate or a Democrat with a spine. Sometimes ya gotta bite da bullet.

You're right about the kind of president you'd (we'd) like to see never getting elected........
They would never allow it!!!!

Vicente Duque said...

Is Mr Obama a weakling ?? - A Sissy to be beaten up by the Republican Bullies - Perhaps not - Obama Analysis - Psychoanalysis of Politics

Many people complain that Mr Obama seems very weak before his enemies, that he seems very detached from Reality, that he lacks certain strength of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or Lyndon Baines Johnson ... These two mentioned presidents were the main architects of Social Legislation in U. S. Twentieth Century History.

They had many powerful enemies in their times ( Republicans and Rich Corporations ) but they showed Great Strength and Force of Character to succeed in Legislation.

Perhaps the people that fear that Mr Obama is a Little Sissy to be beaten up by the Republican Bullies are wrong.

To analyze the personality of Mr Obama, we have first to understand the he is half "Black" and half "White" ... we should paint ourselves with these two colors before wearing Obama's shoes.

The condition of being the "Weird", "Foreigner", "Stranger" and "Other" in a Hawaian School and later in the U. S. Continent has to have an impact on Obama's Soul. This has to produce a reserved and interior personality, more introverted than extroverted, in order to survive or to improve his standing in every situation.

We can not expect Mr Obama to be a buoyant Teddy Roosevelt, or a Franklin Roosevlet from Money and Society Nobility .... Or a Big Texan like Lyndon Johnson. ... Obama comes from the World of Underdogs.

That requires "Survival by Shrewdness", "Quiet endurance of harsh conditions", etc .... be quiet and avoid useless revenge for small nuissances.

So Obama is an occult and hidden personality, but "Filth that doesn't kill you makes you stronger", so Obama may have become stronger with all the Dirt and Filth of Society.

Every new king, ruler or president has to be very prudent when he reaches the throne.

It is reported that Caligula and Nero were welcomed as very Human, Civilized, Kind and Polite, during the first years of their Emperorships.

Obama is not a Caligula or Nero, not even a Tiberius. Obama has little in common with Julius Caesar ( a scion of the Julian Nobility ) but Obama may have an ounce of Augustus ( Diplomacy, Politics ) a gram of Trajan ( Great Builder ) and a pound of Claudius ( Shrewdenss, Intellect, Understanding )

"Felicitor Augusto, melior Traiano" was a ritual formula to greet the Roman Emperors when they arrived to a new city. "Be luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan"...

Be more happy and lucky that Augustus and build more good things for the Empire than Trajan.

Mr Obama may have hidden strengths and reserves of Psychological Strength.

He may be "Quiet "Waters" : in many countries there are rivers and lakes of incredible danger, because they may have hidden currents, whirls, spins, fast rotations that are not apparent in the surface.

So the expression "Quiet Waters" may mean "Hidden Dangers", and as applied to a person, it may mean that under a Quiet and Tranquil personality there are hidden currents of energy and strength to face enemies.

That Mr Obama seems very "Republican" in Afghanistan and other policies, may be buying time to gain strength or to study a situation. ( Perhaps he is not a strong believer in some of his temporary policies )....

Mr Obama is Professorial, Rational, Reasonable, Intelligent, Shrewd, Calculator, Cold, Historian, Bookish and Librarian Like, but he may have a hidden maelstrom of energy and strength.

Vicente Duque

Brother Tim said...

I sure hope you're right, Vicente, but I will not endanger my health by holding my breath.