Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear Malia and Sasha,


'What I Want for You — and Every Child
in America'
By President-elect Barack Obama
Publication Date: 01/14/2009

Next Tuesday, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th President. On this historic occasion, PARADE asked the President-elect, who is also a devoted family man, to get personal and tell us what he wants for his children. Here, he shares his letter to them.
Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me—about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential—schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college—even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country—but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free—that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better—and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much—although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

1 comment:

Brian said...

Someone mentioned on MSNBC last week that there may be a theory that Presidents with younger children are more grounded and more in touch with ordinary people and would therefore be less likely to misuse the treasury, or enter foolish wars. They would be more likely to do what is in the best interest of the Country rather than looking out for themselves, because they somehow have a different perspective about the importance of the future (because of their children).

But that idea has never really been supported based on the behavior of past Presidents. Kennedy had young children, but had a foolish & misguided foreign policy... in fact, worst than Presidents who didn't have young children. Kennedy damn near destroyed the planet.

Fast forward to Clinton... Chelsea was about the age of Obama's oldest daughter at the start of the first Clinton term. Yet Clinton had one of the most reckless foreign policies of any President in the past 100 years. Clinton's foreign policy set the stage for the disastrous Bush years. Clinton sent the military on more adventures than his two Republican predecessors (G.H.W. and Reagan) combined. You could throw G.W.'s Administration in there, and Clinton dispatched the military more than all 3 combined...although the wars of the two Bush's were larger (Clinton was far more active as an interventionist... and it wasn't because he wanted to be a humanitarian... his failure in Rwanda proved that).

You can even look at G.W. He had two school aged daughters...and it just didn't seem to mean much at all in terms of sensible policies. That's partly because G.W. was a weak puppet President... who had other people, like Cheney, who were really driving the ship of the Administration for the past 8 years... but the fact remains... his daughters didn't have a positive impact on policy.

So I don't know how much the sentiment in this letter will mean in terms of Obama's policy decisions. Hopefully he will translate his comments into some sort of comprehensive policy (foreign policy, economic, health, education, social, energy, etc) that will be meaningful and that will support the sentiment. But because of the history of Presidents with children.... I take things like this with a grain of salt. It's Obama PR and spin as far as i'm concerned. I'm not really moved by the Black Camelot stuff. Some of the choices he has made so far simply don't support the rhetoric in this letter.

If he doesn't free us from foreign energy dependence... then the letter means nothing to me.

If he doesn't work to protect the environment, then the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't right the ship and fix the economy, then the letter means nothing to me.

If he doesn't change the War against Terror from a misguided military/Strategic centered war to a more law enforcement/Intel/Tactical and Political based war...and a war of ideals... fought with brains instead of tanks... then not much will change and the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't repair America's standing in the World... then the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't build up the Iraqi and Afghan militaries...so U.S. troops can leave (or at least the bulk of them) within the next 3 or 4 years... then the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't move towards a more robust Progressive plan for the nation (in the vein of FDR), then the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't radically change the energy culture, then the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't make healthcare affordable and accessible to ALL... To ALL Americans... then the letter means nothing.

If he doesn't move away from the interventionist, unilateral, anti UN, imperialist rooted foreign policy, then the letter means nothing whatsoever. That includes backing away from foolish NATO expansion, and away from eventual clashes with Russia and the Chinese.

If he doesn't improve education...and make a good education accessible to all... then the letter means nothing to me.

If he doesn't do something about one of America's biggest taboos... Poverty and the dilapidated & destroyed inner cities across this country (in every big city)... then the letter will mean nothing.

Based on what I have seen so far from Obama, it doesn't look like he is moving in the kind of direction that I have spelled out.
And foreign policy will be the most important... because the direction he chooses on that front will largely determine if and how he will accomplish everything else in his platform. Believe it or not... it's even more important than the economy. His choice of Clinton as Sec. of State doesn't give me confidence or a sense of safety, or that the ship is being guided by good & steady hands.

I have held vigil for the news every hour since Sept. 12th, 2001....waiting to hear about the next Bush Administration f*ck up. It has been a long vigil. That was part of the motivation to start this blog. I was hoping that would change after Jan 20th 2009 and I could finally start to breathe a sigh of relief. But with Hillary Clinton in this most important Cabinet post, that isn't going to happen. Obama's biggest scew up so far was putting a hardcore hawk in the Sec. of State position instead of a smart Progressive. It has the potential to make or break his Presidency... not that it will... but it has the potential to.