Dear President Obama:
With all due respect, Mr. President, where the hell have you been for the past six years? And why did you wait this long to shrug off your too-cool persona and stand up for something? I would say that it's about damn time, but it's probably way past damn time. For six excruciating years, we've watched as the Republicans stalled, bluffed, lied, and shirked their responsibility in a desperate bid to make sure that you didn't succeed. Their only agenda was to derail your agenda.
This was obvious to EVERYBODY. Those on the Right openly applauded the vile, bitter and, yes, sometimes racist strategy designed only to keep you in your place. Meanwhile, your supporters and even some people on the fence who at least wanted to see you get a fair shake waited patiently, and then impatiently, for you to boldly and clearly state your cases(s) and then stand up for yourself. You had the greatest bully pulpit of all time and you let it fall into disrepair from non-use.
I knew guys like you when I was growing up in the ghetto. They dressed a little better than we did and they always seemed to have a little bit of money (compared to our no money at all). They had nicknames like Cool Breeze and you just knew that they believed they were better than the rest of us. Accordingly, they had a lot of acquaintances, but not a whole lot of friends. They'd play basketball and baseball—sometimes quite well—but never football. Too much chance of getting down and dirty at the bottom of a dog pile and maybe losing some of that precious cool.
I have no doubt that they thought that they were avoiding some of life's unpleasantries, while I know for a fact that they were actually missing out on some of life's most valuable lessons. Sometimes, you just gotta fight.
Personally, I wish you had chosen a different fight at a different time. Like maybe, early on, when you gave the country half a stimulus to start digging out after the Bush/Bank Blowout. It should have been twice as big, but you backed off when the Pollyannas on the Right started screaming about budget deficits. You don't hear anything about that anymore, do you? It's partly because deficit spending has never really been a problem, long term, and mostly because stimulus always leads to deficits coming down after a couple years.
If you had gone on the offensive, it wouldn't have taken you so long to pass the Affordable Care Act. You should have been on TV every single day, reminding people that America is a compassionate country and that we take care of our own. You STILL haven't pointed out how successful it is and how important it is to America. The American people deserve to know how good the program is and, once they learn that, it will have the additional benefit of showing just how petty and empty the Republican usage of "Obamacare" as a pejorative really is.
The economy is actually doing really well. (It would be going great had we not spent the last six years with your foot on the gas and John Boehner's on the brake.) Unemployment is back down in the 5's, where it was before the Great Recession started. The stock market is booming. People are buying new cars and the housing market is finally getting traction. Yet, somehow, two-thirds of all Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Why don't people know about all the good things that are happening? Because you've been too cool to tell them.
As Muhammad Ali would say, "This ain't braggin'; it's truthin'."
Perhaps the most insane reaction to your announcement came from former drug addict Rush Limbaugh. (That guy has gone around the bend so many times, his nickname should be NASCAR.) He kinda sideways acknowledged that Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush did what you are doing, but then added, "The reason it was okay for Ronald Reagan to do it is that people actually liked Ronald Reagan." Great argument there, Oxy.
I also knew guys like Ted Cruz. They weren't Cool Breezes; they were Hot Winds. They had some acquaintances and no friends. Cruz said that your action is in "defiance of Congress."
How exactly does one defy something that doesn't happen? I don't get it. Congress has had decades to pass an immigration bill. Republicans didn't want to do it because it was more politically expedient to pick at that scab than to try to heal the scar.
So now you've finally picked a fight. Just so you'll know, I don't agree with everything in your plan, but I'm pleased that you've come out swinging after all this time. If you had done it six months ago, the election results might not have been so dismal.
The best part of your speech was when you said "(If you don't like it), pass a bill." We definitely would have benefited from more of that attitude over the past six years. The Republicans don't want to compromise; they don't want to work together. They want to stop you cold. I'm thrilled that you've finally decided to put up a fight.
Give 'em hell, Barry!