September 16, 2009

Dear President Obama,

You were elected to lead our country amid one of its greatest economic challenges. The circumstances you face are just as serious and threatening today as they were on the day you took office. At that time, you promised not just change but also leadership.

And that is what we now need and expect from you. Leadership means you have to lead by giving specifics on the policies you want enacted. You might task your senior staff or Cabinet with developing these details — but at the end of the day, they should come from the White House, not Congress.
You campaigned on health care, and now you are trying to deliver on that promise. While I do not agree with much of what has been proposed thus far, I have to compliment you on sticking with your commitment.

I think both your poll numbers and the American people would be in a much better place today, however, if your administration had been the one to draft an original bill. So what if the legislation did not come back precisely in the same form you sent it? It would not be a defeat if you got a similar bill passed. Instead, because you abdicated the task of drafting a bill to Congress, you have been saddled with a mass of confusion and a lot of angry people on both sides of the issue.

While we are on the subject of delivering on campaign promises, what happened to the openness in government that you so eloquently promised? You have fallen short of your commitment to let Americans read bills online five days before you sign them.

And the general spirit of respect for the Constitution that you espoused during the campaign also seems to be missing. You have given us more czars than the Russians have had in their history. Besides the offensive nature of the title, bypassing the confirmation process of the Senate and putting in place people with enormous ability to structure policy with no responsibility to respond to the Hill set a dangerous precedent. You have put in place a process that undermines your Cabinet, confuses people about who is really developing policy and gives us people like Van Jones, who would never have passed the scrutiny of even your own party. And these czars are determining policies at a time when more than half of your presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions remain unfilled.

Mr. President, I want you to do well for the sake of our country. I may be a Republican, but I am an American first. You told us you wanted to be a president for all Americans, yet you have so far pushed through only policies that reflect your views, not ours. Bipartisanship is possible. Compromise is possible. The nation is hungry for a leader who really will “put aside the bitter partisanship of Washington,” as you described during the campaign. Will you be that leader?