As I write this, you are no doubt putting some last-minute, finishing touches on your second inaugural address. I for one cannot wait to hear it, and hope that it will be both inspiring and transcendent. Even your most demonic detractors have to admit that you are endowed with a felicity of expression, the likes of which few presidents have
ever possessed. For your millions upon millions of supporters, this ability to inspire and uplift is, without question, a lustrous gift. Of course, there are additional millions who denigrate your eloquence; who find in your phrases traces of treachery and elitism. Don't take it too personally Mr. President; as the great French essayist and skeptic Michel de Montaigne noted long ago, Peu d’hommes ont esté admirés par leurs domestiques, namely, "No man is a hero to his valet."
Yes indeed, Mr. President, I am looking forward to your inaugural address, and know you won't let us down. At the same time, there are a few things I hope not to hear you say. Chief among these are the expressions "Reaching across the aisle," "In the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship," and anything including the words "The higher angels of our being." For you see, Mr. President, it is my deep and sincere hope that you learned a lesson during your first term; that no amount of wining, dining, schmoozing or boozing will ever get the opposition to support -- even via compromise -- any program or proposal you put on the table.
During your first term, you spent a lot of time seeking out Republicans you thought might be reasonable. And then, you made compromises in the hopes that mollified, these "reasonable" folks would then go back and convince other members of their caucus to join you in doing that which was right for America. But time and again, the only message they brought back from their caucus was "No bipartisanship, no compromise, no nothing . . . it's our way or the highway." How many times can you hear "Do what we want or we'll shut down the government, blow up the economy, and dump tons and tons of coal into middle-class stockings" before it begins to sink in that these guys aren't ever going to become political partners?
Inviting Speaker Boehner to play another round of golf with you just isn't going to cut it. I'm not sure he would even accept an invitation; in the eyes of those on his right flank. hitting the green with you would be an act of duplicity . . . consorting with the enemy. Heck, to the best of my knowledge, not a single new GOP member of Congress accepted your invitation to come on over to the White House for punch and cookies. And that's a tradition as old as Adams and Jefferson. And recently, when you held a private screening of Lincoln -- attended by Steven Spielberg, and stars Daniel-Day Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones -- Boehner, Minor Leader McConnell and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) turned down invitations. Hells bells: if you can't get them to come out for Spielberg and free popcorn, what chance is there of reaching a consensus on Global Warming, Immigration Reform or the next Secretary of Defense?
The only thing that motivates Republicans these days is fear; fear that if they don't toe the most conservative line imaginable, they will be challenged in the next primary by someone who is even further to the right. This excruciatingly obtuse situation should, Mr. President, give you the beginnings of a strategy for your second term. If handled properly, you can hasten the complete and utter marginalization of the GOP. How? By increasing the political cost of having the GOP coalition -- shaky though it may be -- defined by Second Amendment absolutists, climate science deniers, supporters of "self-deportation" and the pure no-tax wing.
Little by little, you are beginning to see the strategy at work. Already, members of the GOP including Governors Chris Christie (NJ) and Bobby Jindal (LA) are upbraiding fellow Republicans for putting hard-core deficit reduction ahead of heartfelt disaster relief, and Senators Rubio (FL) and Cruz (TX) ridiculing the "self-deportation" wing of their party. Its a start, Mr. President; one that you should just stand back and enjoy. You don't have to lift a finger; the GOP is imploding of its own accord. Just proceed with a second-term agenda which includes addressing global warming and immigration, sensible gun control and the retrofitting of the nation's infrastructure, education and the cleaning up the nation's economic woes.
I like your official second-term photo; it displays a bit of attitude I believe was missing in your first term. For here, you are smiling, but with your arms crossed. Could it be symbolic of the way the next four years are going to be? That you mean business? That you're going to be a more resolute, more forceful Barack Obama? I for one certainly hope so. Please Mr. President, don't waste any of the next four years trying to schmooze the opposition. You schmooze, you lose. Time and again the GOP ("Guns Over People" as one pundit has taken to calling them) have shown themselves to care more about reelection than repairing that which ails us. There is no need for you to divide them so that they may be conquered; they have, after all, divided themselves. As the greatest of your predecessors once said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Best wishes for a successful second term. We're in your corner, just as you, are in ours.
Be good to yourself,
Kurt F. Stone
©2013 Kurt F. Stone