Terry Paulson

Mr. President, every month since you've been in office, I've sent you a personal letter, as I have with every president since Bill Clinton. Since I respect the office of the President, I've always felt that it was my responsibility to exercise my citizenship by voicing both my concerns and my support.

I've never expected my comments to change your mind, but I held on to the belief that I could be one of many who might. As my great Uncle Harvey used to say, "When one person calls you a horse's (behind), don't worry about it. When three people do, buy a saddle." Three may not be enough for any president, but thousands should.

Over the years, even when I haven't voted for a given President, I've always come to trust that, though they were committed to different priorities and policies, they still had America's best interests at heart. I no longer think you do.

You're a continual campaigner, not a leader. You're a problem avoider, not a problem solver. You're aloof and arrogant instead of engaged in reaching across the aisle. Now it is increasingly clear that instead of bringing hope and change, you've brought a culture of intimidation.

Good leaders take more than their share of the blame and less than their share of the credit. As the growing list of scandals swirl around your administration, the buck never stops with you.

Every time you sanctimoniously question how anyone could believe that you would have anything to do with such scandals, I'm reminded of the fiery preacher who wrote in the margin of his sermon outline, "Weak point. Pound the pulpit. Pick up the volume."

Your scandal playbook is painfully predictable. You discount the problem, caution to wait for "all the facts," or describe them as "old issues." You blame low-level staffers, President Bush, Rush Limbaugh, racial bigotry, or "straw man" caricatures of conservatives that don't remotely match reality. Worst of all, you assume we'll believe you because the mainline media will look the other way or actively defend you.

But when Weekly Standard and ABC broke the story that your Benghazi talking points took twelve rewrites to blame an irrelevant YouTube video that no one on the ground in Libya could defend, more citizens and media supporters took notice. When you made the false claim that you publicly labeled the Benghazi attack a terrorist act the day after it had occurred, even more lost trust. Mr. President, it's increasingly clear that your team lied about Benghazi to protect your campaign from an embarrassing failure that cost four Americans their lives and could have cost you an election.

When IRS officials admitted to improper treatment of hundreds of conservative political and religious groups, you blamed out-of-control low-level staffers and fired an interim administrator already set to leave in June. You told America that you were a president we could trust to lead, but when there is failure you want us to believe you and your team had no knowledge or control?

When the Associated Press was faced with evidence of the Justice Department secretly monitoring the personal phones of Associated Press reporters and editors, even the media began to turn. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the action “a massive and unprecedented intrusion.” When a liberal-leaning Politico column notes “…reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration,” you know you're in trouble.

Mr. President, It's time to buy a saddle. Before President Nixon resigned in 1973, he had won a resounding election victory. But as more and more Watergate facts were revealed, it wasn't the Democrats who brought Nixon down. It wasn't even Woodward and Bernstein. It was when Nixon's own party lost trust in their own leader and refused to defend his presidency.

Some American Indians had a way of taking care of chiefs they no longer respected. The chief would wake up one morning in their dwelling and find that the rest of the tribe had left them during the night. For good reason, fewer and fewer friendly tents are being seen around the White House these days.


Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

 
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