Dear Mr. President – I would hate to have your job. First of all because I am not very good at politics of any kind. But mostly because it would drive me nuts to be that busy and to have to wear a coat and tie 24/7. Do you sleep in a coat and tie?
I am so far removed from your world that I have no idea what life must be like for you. I’m just an old tree farmer in rural Georgia. I get up early, but probably not as early as you. I go to bed at a decent hour, probably earlier than you. Plus, I don’t have to worry about the red phone on the night stand waking me up at some awful hour of the night forcing me to straighten my tie and run down to the Situation Room. You probably, at least, have a tie hanging on the bed post just in case you need one.
When I was a kid at Hampton Elementary School I had a teacher that told us boys that we could be President someday. It was a dream for us boys on the level of being a Fireman, or an Astronaut, or a Cowboy. Back then the girls were not included in that dream, which would be politically incorrect in the classroom these days.
Things have changed a lot, I guess. Some of it for the better. Some of it, not so much.
I know you’re not having a very good time being President right now. It’s probably not much help, but I don’t think any of the Presidents ahead of you had a very good time either. Most of them looked very, very tired and a little worn out when their time as President came to an end. I hope you are getting a few naps along the way. You’re at that age when you need to get your rest.
There was this one peanut farmer from down the road here in Georgia that was President once upon a time. He was the first President I ever voted for. I’ll be honest. I voted for him because he was from my State. That was it. I was 18 and didn’t know much about voting, but I have always taken my privilege to vote seriously. I hear people say, “He was a joke”, which I hope they don’t mean completely. I’m pretty sure he was a really good man in a really tough job. I know that he and Miss Roselyn are loved a lot down in Plains. Those are the people who know him best. He’s no joke to them.
You probably already know this, but being President means having to please a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds with a lot of different ideas about how this country of ours ought to be run. I just want you to know that I’m sorry that we are a hard crowd to please. Even my Daddy said that a man can’t please all the people all the time. It’s an impossible job assignment, even if you are President. Maybe exactly because you are President.
I’ve seen a lot of signs on TV lately. Angry folks holding signs with a lot of four letter declarations about their opinion of you. I am also sorry for that. Somebody needs to apologize. My Mama would have taken me outside and whipped my backside with a switch if I had said or written or even thought any of those words. And if I had said something like that about JFK, I would have been so sore I wouldn’t have been able to sit down for a week.
Here’s the thing, Mr. President. No one knows what they are getting when they vote for the guy they want to see in your office. We all think our guy is going to save us and the other guy is going to ruin us. It’s just the nature of opinion. My folks probably voted for Nixon when he ran against Jack in 1960. And we all know how Tricky Dick turned out. My folks would have been suspicious of a Catholic President with lots of money. He turned out to be an okay guy. I know he gave at least one great speech that everybody still likes to quote. But somebody hated him enough to take his life. That’s sad to me.
You probably get all kinds of hate mail. I guess, these days, people tweet their hate out for the whole world to see. It’s embarrassing for most of us. You should know that. This is probably another good reason that I would never want your job. I’ve been hated on a couple times in my life, and I don’t like it. I had an employee one time call me a two-faced, sorry, low down son-of-a-gun. What he actually called me was a #!@*< and a @#$^^!!!! I really didn’t think I deserved that. And you probably don’t deserve it either.
When I was in high school I ran for Class President one time. I can’t remember why I would ever consider doing that. Maybe it was because I thought my classmates deserved a better option than my opponent. Maybe it was because I had lost my ever-loving mind.
I didn’t have much of a campaign. “Vote for Paul”. That was about it. If I had a platform and a promise, I don’t remember. I think I got two votes. Me and my buddy who helped me make the signs. And he felt obligated to vote for me, because one time, when we floated down the Hooche on one of those radio show river promotions, I pulled him to safety when a bunch of thugs started lofting beer cans at us like grenades. But, being in the White House, you know exactly how that feels.
So, what’s it like? Being President? It must be pretty awesome to ride in Air Force One. Lifting off in a helicopter from the White House lawn to go do important stuff. Having a limo at your disposal. I’d be like Tom Hanks in “Big” who flipped all the light switches on and off, picked up the phone, pushed buttons and who stood up through the sun roof riding around New York like a dork. I couldn’t be President for playing with all the cool gadgets. I bet Jimmy, from Plains, was a little like that. Is there really a “football” and a Book of Secrets? Asking for a friend.
Seriously, though, when you sit back in your chair and look across at the Washington Monument (which I kinda hope is still there), what does it feel like? To know that you are connected to over 200 years of history in a way that few of us will never know. You sit where George and Thomas and Abe and Teddy and Franklin and Jack and Ronald sat. In Fifth Grade, I sat where Donald sat. Not you, Donald, but some other Donald. His name was carved in the top of my desk. “Donald was here.” Does the Resolute Desk have any names carved in it? It should.
Mr. President, we forget where you sit sometimes. We think we know better than you do and we get upset when we think you forget where you are sitting. That chair behind that desk has held this country together over some pretty rough spells. A couple of World Wars. A flu epidemic. A Missile Crisis. Campus shootings. American hostages on foreign soil. Attacks by terrorist on our soil. And it’s unfair that the whole world usually blames the guy sitting in your chair. I mean, if I had been class president, I’m almost positive that I would have been blamed for the stench in the locker room. I played tennis and chess. I wasn’t even allowed in the locker room.
I’m guessing that being President is about the toughest job on earth. Everything you do is judged by some poll or on the evening talk shows. And being President in 2020 hasn’t helped much either. If you were the Coach of the Washington Whacha-ma-callits, you’d be in the middle of what might turn out to be a 2 & 14 season. Not only do the fans of the Dallas Cowboys hate you on principal, some of your own fans are not so sure that there will be a next season. Football coaches and Presidents always seem to pay for a bad season.
I want you to know, Mr. President, that I will mention you in my prayers tonight. It’s the least I can do. Like I said, I wouldn’t want your job for all the tea in China, and I know how you feel about China. I would hope you get a lot of prayers. Even those who think of you as an enemy should pray for you. The Book says so.
Look, I gotta go. My dog, Max, is wanting to get out of the house. I can’t have him doing “that” in the living room, not even for writing a letter to the President.
I hope you’re not needed tonight in the Situation Room. I hope you get to watch reruns of MASH or Andy. I hope you get at least one good night’s sleep this week. Looks to me like you’re gonna need it.
From a fellow American.