A 2008 exhortation and thank you to Obama


Many of these words to President Obama written by Garrison Keillor in 2008 remain current:

Bravo, Barack, Mr. Steady, who cheerfully did the rope lines, made the phone calls, answered the same questions fifteen thousand times, bounded up the stairs, delivered his lines with warmth and wit, ran a tight disciplined army, and that, plus $700 million and an 80 m.p.h. wind at your back, is all you need to win the prize.

…A good shingle for the new administration to hang out, rather than The New Covenant or A Fair Exchange or English Spoken Here, would be Keep Seat Belt Buckled. Happy days are not here and the sky above is not clear.

…As for President-elect Obama, he can now stop dancing, which he’s been doing for 20 months—in a democracy we want candidates to really, really, really want to be president—and get down to the business of patient, focused, rational deliberation and calculation, starting with the formulation of a Cabinet and a White House staff. Have them write up a presidential order for Jan. 20 saying that America will not employ torture, and maybe issue a blanket presidential pardon for your predecessor and his vice, and then set about the business of disappointing your followers and astonishing your enemies and doing what is right for our country.

Be good to yourself. Hire smart, stable people who can tell you things you need to know and not copy Bob Woodward. Keep some Republicans around. You’re the man. You make us proud. You let us get to know you. You have the gift of speaking clearly and forcefully, whole sentences and paragraphs, while thinking at the same time, a good gift. You don’t need a staff of writers to create a persona for you. You need engineers. Problem solvers. You’re inheriting a raft of them.

Get on that treadmill every morning. Keep a daily journal. Let us see those darling girls once in awhile. Please don’t play golf. Don’t get a dog. Enjoy Camp David. Be happy. Don’t hire people to tell you how to dress or who to be; you’re a grown-up. Don’t do crap that someday you’d have to go on TV and make cheesy apologies for. This job is one you were cut out to do and a big part of the job is to keep up the national morale and you are already doing that big-time. And thank you, sir. All those cheap motels, all those flights, all of that chip dip. We are deeply grateful.