Pres­i­dent and his foes need to put away the ham­mers


You and I both know you won’t see this let­ter, but that’s OK. I am go­ing to feel bet­ter hav­ing writ­ten it. For one thing, it will con­fuse my friends and con­found my en­e­mies, many on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum who can’t seem to grasp the con­cept of mid­dle ground. You must be ei­ther a rock-bound, hard-nosed, guns-ev­ery­where­but-the-ge­or­gia-state-capi­tol con­ser­va­tive or a govern­ment-knows-best, open-the­bor­ders-even-to-ter­ror­ists, boys-and-girlsshare-the-same-bath­room left-lean­ing lib­eral. Be­lieve it or not, a few of us are nei­ther.

I wrote ear­lier sug­gest­ing you tone down the name-call­ing (par­tic­u­larly with latenight TV hosts who feed on that stuff – it’s called “rat­ings”) and was as­sured by one of your close con­fi­dants that the let­ter would get into the White House. I knew that was a crock. I’ve had some deal­ings with pre­vi­ous White House ad­min­is­tra­tions. That let­ter ended up in the hands of some ju­nior func­tionary who has never even seen you in per­son, let alone de­liv­ered you a let­ter.

But it is the Christ­mas sea­son and I am the gift that keeps on giv­ing. So, I give you some more ad­vice: Stop the name­call­ing. Please.

I’m not sure where you learned the art of in­sults, but I dis­cov­ered it on the gram­mar school play­ground. I found out that if some­one called me a name, I could re­tal­i­ate by call­ing them a name. Con­versely, if I dis­par­aged a play­mate, chances are they would dis­par­age me, too. Some­times, it would lead to fisticuffs. (To­day, it would in­volve lawyers, the po­lice, so­cial work­ers and in­tone­ments about ram­pant bul­ly­ing, but that’s a sub­ject for an­other day.)

Thank­fully, I grew out of that phase, although I have been known to di­gress oc­ca­sion­ally on these pages and lay into some pompous soul that de­served it. But I am not the pres­i­dent. You are. You set the tone for the na­tional mood and it is not good at the mo­ment.

Name-call­ing seems to de­light your base. It also en­cour­ages the other side to call you names and that de­lights their base. Back and forth it goes. I, for one, am not sure what all of that ac­com­plishes other than to re­mem­ber the old story about the guy who kept hit­ting him­self in the head with the ham­mer. When asked why, he said be­cause it felt so good when he stopped.

The irony is that in the midst of the ca­coph­ony, you have done some good things. De­spite re­cent mar­ket cor­rec­tions, stocks are at an all-time high. Un­em­ploy­ment is close to an all-time low. You seem to have that guy with the bad hair­cut in North Korea think­ing twice about run­ning his mouth. While I’m no ex­pert on the sub­ject, I think your tar­iff strate­gies are go­ing to work in the coun­try’s fa­vor. But you stay em­broiled in con­tro­versy. Some of your mak­ing, some not.

You could do worse than look to Ron­ald Rea­gan as a role model. He had his fair share of fake news and par­ti­san crit­i­cism to deal with, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He had a great sense of hu­mor which he used ef­fec­tively. He let peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate him at their own risk. Rea­gan didn’t be­lit­tle peo­ple. He man­aged to get the Berlin Wall torn down with­out in­sult­ing Rus­sian premier Mikhail Gor­bachev. When the ner­vous nel­lies in the State Depart­ment ob­jected to the tim­ing of his de­mands, he qui­etly re­minded them who was pres­i­dent and who was not. And the wall came tum­bling down.

My con­cern is that if the name-call­ing and in­sults on both sides con­tinue, a lot of fair-minded peo­ple are go­ing to get tired of it and seek an al­ter­na­tive — like a third party that is philo­soph­i­cally some­where be­tween guns in churches and boys and girls in each other’s bath­rooms. When that hap­pens, then will come coali­tions as we have in Europe to­day and gov­ern­ing by a mi­nor­ity. That is a fright­en­ing prospect.

We are Amer­i­cans first and po­lit­i­cal par­ti­sans sec­ond. There isn’t any­one among us that doesn’t want to see Amer­ica great. We also want to see it uni­fied. As one of your pre­de­ces­sors, Abra­ham Lin­coln, said, “A house di­vided against it­self can­not stand.” (By the way, he got that from the Bi­ble, Matthew 12:25, in case you are won­der­ing.) Our house is badly di­vided these days.

If you want to make Amer­ica great again, I would sug­gest you and your en­e­mies put away the ham­mers and start try­ing to find some com­mon ground. It’s Christ­mas­time. Can’t we all get along? Please?

Your pen pal, You can reach Dick Yar­brough at [email protected]­; at P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, 31139 or on Face­book at www. face­­yarb.


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