Dear Barack,


What a week!  You must be wiped! No wonder those gray hairs on your head are multiplying at such a rapid clip!

I am by no means among your greatest fans. But I respect your intelligence and integrity. And I admire your dedication to service as president of the United States. Moreover I do not doubt for one moment that what you do do and do not do is being done or not done in what you judge the best interest of your country.

This last week has in the event been daunting. Given the contextual complexities, I for one am starting to doubt whether any single individual can lead from the White House over any protracted period of time without being regularly, relentlessly, pilloried.  But some weeks are more challenging than others – and this past one has been a  whopper. There is no way you could have anticipated one week ago that which came to pass. To be sure, you’re hardly the first president of the United States who has had to cope with a bolt out of the blue. After all, your much derided immediate predecessor had to face a mind-bending attack on American soil. But, it is also true that by and large leadership work is like other sorts of work: it is predicated on a set of presumptions that enable us to function reasonably coherently. So, when these assumptions are upended, when our game plan for any given day not to speak of week is derailed, it complicates our task.

I don’t know, Barack, if you read my blogs. In the event you do, you’re aware that my most recent one was about how our domestic politics was turned on its head from one day to the next by the unceremonious and wholly unanticipated defeat of  Eric Cantor. What was it like then for you to discover only a day or so later that our foreign politics too had been upended, this time by a turn of events in Iraq that included a series of stunning victories by Islamic extremists. Five minutes ago your biggest foreign policy challenge was to tame Vladimir Putin. Now, suddenly you’re being asked to deal with a large swath of the Middle East that seems to have become overnight an existential threat – not merely to moderates in the area, but to the United States as well.


It’s not easy being a leader these days, least of all American president. What this means is that whatever the deficits of your presidency, you’re likely to shoulder some of the blame – but by no means, no stretch of the political imagination, all of the blame. Times are tough, very tough – an objective fact that is independent absolutely of who sits in the Oval Office.

So make sure on this warm, lovely Saturday in Washington to go out and play golf, to hang with family and friends, to have a cold beer.  You need to chill out and check out, at least one day each inordinately taxing week.




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