Dear Mr. President-Elect:
I'm writing this on Halloween, with Election Day still four days off, but I'm fairly certain that you're going to ride that anti-Republican sentiment into the White House. (Of course, there is always the chance that I could be wrong, and if I am, I'll have John McCain hold up my column and get a "Dewey Defeats Truman" photo out of it.)
Somebody once said that, sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. In this presidential campaign, you were both. You ran a smooth, professional campaign, but it didn't hurt that Hillary Clinton's people were over-confident and John McCain's were under-competent. You raised and spent an absolutely sickening amount of money, allowing you to overwhelm first your primary opponents and then Sen. McCain. (Your money machine, while impressive, is a blight on American politics and sets an example and baseline for future campaigns that could turn this country's electoral process into something none of us will even recognize.)
At the same time, it's entirely possible that you wouldn't have won had Wall Street not imploded when it did. That mighty gust of a tailwind created when all those banks and brokerage firms went bust pushed you into the lead and gave you enough momentum to hold off the GOP ticket. But if the financial fiasco had happened two months earlier or two months later, we might have been facing four years in which we'd grow ever-more nostalgic for Dick Cheney.
Please don't become one of those people who believe they make their own luck. The wind doesn't always blow in the same direction, and an earthquake can make a river flow backward. Don't count on the gods always being on your side.
Keep in mind that you didn't win because all of your ideas were perfect and perfectly articulated. The Democrats rolled not because they were so wonderful, but because the Republicans spent the past eight years--through arrogance, greed and hypocrisy--building a Great Wall of Ill Will.
I've been a Democrat all my life. Just a few years back, I was all but convinced that I would spend the rest of my days living in a country with an ever-tightening Republican majority. It's funny how they were able (and willing) to piss it all away in a short period of time. One hopes that you never lose sight of what they did and how they did it.
Having said all that, please allow me to make a few suggestions:
• Go get Osama bin Laden. I've never voted for a Republican presidential candidate in my life, but I'll be honest: If at one of George W. Bush's press conferences in 2002, he had reached under the podium and pulled out the head of bin Laden, he would have had my vote two years later. That may be petty and single-minded, but people have used far worse rationales than that to vote for somebody.
Every single day that guy is alive, it bothers me. We should have used every resource available to us to track him down and kill him. Instead, we wandered off into Iraq, and that al-Qaida bum is still breathing air instead of dirt. I especially despise the way the Bushies maneuvered toward the sour-grapes position of, "Oh, he's only one guy. If we kill him, somebody else will just take his place."
Yeah, but he'd still be dead. And if new heads keep popping up and then getting chopped off shortly after their initial appearance, after a while, that might not be an honor to which many people would aspire.
Go get him. Show the world that we never forget. And show the war wimps in the Bush administration how it should have been done. I'm a peaceful guy, but I learned at an early age that if somebody gets all up in your face, you don't turn around and show them your butt, because they might have plans for that, too.
• Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. People are going to run at you with 1,000 crackpot schemes a day. Resist the urge to be Mr. Nice Guy to everybody. People don't deserve free day care. Not everybody wants health care. Don't get bogged down in feel-good measures that don't move the country forward.
• Resist all those big-money Democrats buzzing in your ear. They're all going to want something, but it's up to you not to lose focus. Rebuilding the nation's infrastructure may not be sexy, but it's important. For too long, Democrats have been this loose association of single-issue zealots. When the towers fell, Bush was handed a golden opportunity to bring the country together and move it forward. He blew it. You have a similar opportunity. Please learn from his blunders.
And please don't entertain thoughts of revenge. The Republicans may have come to power and held on to it for a while by demonizing Democrats, but please don't play that game. The Republicans are not our enemies; they are Americans who see some things differently. We'll all be better off if you govern with that in mind.
• And finally, please leave Janet Napolitano alone. The buzz is that you're looking at her for Homeland Security. Maybe good for you, but definitely bad for us. I know we survived Evan Mecham, but Jan Brewer? Really?!