Dear President Obama,
I am writing to you from a stretcher in a hallway in County-USC Medical Center. I am waiting to see a radiologist about the lump in my breast.
I am 38 years old. I have been out of work for 3 years. In that time, I have gone back to grad school and gotten my master’s — specialized journalism focusing on urban policy.
I used to be the editor of a newspaper. It’s not your fault what happened to publishing. We did that to ourselves.
I would like to tell you a little about myself. I am a single mother of a 17-year-old boy. He’s actually my brother, but his mom (my stepmom) died when he was a baby. He came to live with me when he was 18 months old and I was 22. Hes a terrific kid — really sweet! Loves his mama! (Me.) But he is not college-bound. I am trying to get him into the Job Corps when he graduates in June. I worry.
I am a proud liberal (raised by an actual Communist!). I am a happy feminist. I used to write a pretty famous column called “Commie Girl” in Orange County, California. Even though I have been out of work (again … not your fault!) for 3 years, I still manage to send a few hundred bucks a year to Doctors W/O Borders and environmental groups. I am frugal. I still have some money in the bank (obviously because I don’t own my home). I take my cloth bags to the store. I am a really good citizen.
I even love jury duty! (I mean it. I truly love it.)
So. About you. As a rule, I have defended you from all sides. When my younger Occupy brother said you were as bad as Bush, I smack him and yelled at him that he was an idiot. I was disappointed frequently with what I saw as your propensity to give away the store in negotiations w/ the GOP — single payer, for instance — but then would listen to your grand liberal speeches and be instantly swayed.
The day after your election, I wept and wept. I was in my editor’s office (by which I mean my office) just watching speeches and weeping. I’m enclosing the newspaper we put out that week — it was a scrappy little paper; my tiny staff made miracles with the budget I had. Please read the contents page. It is everything I felt that day. Jesus — even Condi Rice made me cry! Even George Freaking Bush made me cry that day, talking about your beautiful little girls.
I’m feeling a little raw, a little emotional today, with the lump in my breast and all. 38. Out of work. Single mother. No insurance, of course.
And I started my day seeing on Twitter that you were about to “compromise” with the Religious Right on women’s health, and I wept like you couldn’t believe. I don’t know how to explain the grief I felt, the betrayal.
That the men in your administration — Daley, for Christ’s sake! My fave, “Old Sexy Joe” Biden — had gotten your ear, and the women had been stiffed.
And it’s unnecessary! I’m Catholic. 98% of us use birth control. Exactly why does our boss get to decide our morality for us?
You’re a Constitutional scholar. You are well aware that wasn’t what was meant by religious liberty. Hell, I’ve taken Constitutional Law my own bad self. The SC has no problem w/ forcing sects to abide by laws as long as they’re generally applicable. Like the peyote one — you know the one I mean. I can’t look it up since I’m in the hospital and all.
But it seem like Fox News opens its yap — and you take cover.
It is moral cowardice, Mr. President. It truly is. You should be fighting for us.
I read (in Politico, I think?) about your wife, whom I so admire, and her battles with Rahm Emanual. A friend said it made her look bad. I heartily disagree. Mrs. Obama was exactly right in every one of the battles detailed. Rahm wanted you to take the coward’s way out, to drop your principles, which I believe are firmly held, at least when I listen to your beautiful speeches. Your wife was right to hold you to your promises. Rahm’s way didn’t even work! It just made you look weak. Even John Boehner has been trying to roll you now — and even when he knows damn well (like w/ the debt ceiling) that you’re RIGHT.
Since I’ve been in the hospital all day, I haven’t gotten to see the details of your “compromise” with the Church — or rather, the Church hierarchy, who think they get to determine the morality of people work in their secular institutions.
I hope to hell that when I finally get home (oh — County USC is a hospital for poors, so I’ve been here 9 hours so far) that I’ll be delighted by your clever solution — you know, Andrew Sullivan’s insistence that you’re really playing like 5-dimensional chess — instead of sickened by a betrayal that truly feels like a shiv.
Please stand up for us.
Please stay firm. Not just on women’s health, though of course I’m so raw and tender about it this week. I don’t care about my breasts. I care about my life. I am so scared it is ridiculous.
No, stay firm for all of us.
Whether it’s poors or gays or the ladies, or the middle class, or … I don’t know. Bankers. Whatever. We’re all Americans. (Oh, and your foreign policy has been amazingly strong, but maybe you could throw a bone to Glenn Greenwald.) Or we’re all humans. One or the other.
Please do right. As as happy side benefit, Americans will react to your strength. Real strength, not phony Reagan strength.
PS: I forgot to mention — in our endorsement issue in 2008, we (and by “we,”I mean “I”) illustrated you in the Garden of Eden, with a unicorn. It was my idea. It was hilarious. You would have loved it.
Very truly yours,
Los Angeles, California