Dear Mr. President,
A friend sent me this yesterday from The Anderson Valley Advertiser, a small irreverent left coast weekly, one of the few remaining voices of dissent: “Obama, looked at from the AVA’s outback rook about as far from the power levers as it's possible to get, remains a mystery. We can't decide if he's simply weak, or the victim of ongoing betrayals by the people around, or a victim of the prevailing incompetence, or he's just another hollow man along the lines of Bill Clinton, Gavin Newsom, or any number of the shiny-teeth ciphers presently occupying public office…who wants to be President simply so he can ride around in limos and Air Force One and call up drone murders of Arab grandmothers. With Obama, its one catastrophe after another, and he smiles on through all of it like a guy walking into a Christmas party.” (Nov. 20) I have to admit I still have an occasional doubt myself, wondering who you are. Call it residual denial at falling for your con, but those moments don’t last long and they’re getting less frequent. After five years the evidence is overwhelming that you fall in the category of hollow men who lust for the trappings of power and privilege, who can murder a grandmother picking okra in her garden in the mountains of Waziristan and not even acknowledge that somebody fucked up when her son and grandchildren tell their tale of injustice to representatives of Congress. No acknowledgment either, for the murder of an imam in a small village in Yemen arguing with three men who wanted him to stop preaching against violence. No apologies, no regrets to the imam’s brother who came to Washington asking why his brother was murdered. Or to the family of 16-year-old Abdulrahman Awlaki, an American boy whose only crime seemed to be that he was the son of an anti-American cleric. That’s the ultimate power trip isn’t it? To murder with impunity. It must be a rush to have the power of life and death. Like a god. I think the AVA editorial missed that dimension of evil in you, Mr. President. You’re not just a shiny-toothed empty suit who likes to ride around in limos and Air Force One; there’s an element of cold-blooded evil, the kind it takes to remain silent in the face of gross injustice, to show no regret and offer no apology for the murders of a 67-year-old grandmother in Pakistan or a 16-year-old boy searching for his father in Yemen or an imam refusing to stop preaching against violence. That’s a special kind of evil, Presidential evil.