Open Letter To President Obama

Spencer waits enthralled for what he will say....

Dear Mr. President,

I watched you this morning on tv strolling the beaches of the Gulf, wiping away a trickle of sweat…hot down there isn’t it? I mean, seriously…it gets really blazing hot down there. The Gulf  also has the world’s most beautiful beaches, in my humble opinion, though I admit to being a bit biased in this area.

Here’s what I want to say to you Mr. President. None of us can undo what’s happened down south….oh, if we could only open the delicate glass door to time and turn back the clock a couple of months, but alas, technology hasn’t gotten that far.  But what we can do…what YOU can do, is first of all, make sure that big oily mess is made right down there. I have family who live in Gulf Shores, and word on the street is that the cleanup effort is kind of what you might expect when a whole bunch of beaurecratic agencies get together and jostle for who’s boss….the impolite term is a cluster  %*#. But since you and I are both civilized and well brought up, let’s just call it a boondoggle. Bottom line, get more resources down there and tell your chiefs to forget their turf wars and just get it done.


Isn't cleaning fun??

But the bigger thing I want to ask of you is to use this BP bad for global good. I need to hear from you in  your national address that things are going to change in this country, whether we’re ready or not. That it’s past time…for a real ,toothy howling energy policy in this country. No more…ok, you knuckleheads, you got another 20 years to change your ways. The profligate way we all use energy in this country has got to stop. Our wasteful, who-gives-a crap-there’s more where-that-comes from….has to end. Now, Mr. President…I should tell you there will be lots of us who don’t want to do that. (Don’t tell anyone but I walk around in the building where I work and while we have recycling bins for paper around the newsroom, lots of paper still hits the trashcan.) It’s easier you know, than just making a recycling stack and taking it over at the end of the day. Soooooo much easier. That’s just a tiny example of the attitude I’m talking about.  And it isn’t always that we don’t care….old habits die hard. And we need to have it hurt to continue our ways. If you make us pay, so that  it hurts to live this way, oh, Mr. President, we’ll change in a hurry. And for many people, sadly, it will be the ONLY thing that changes them.

It’s bully pulpit time, Mr. President. This is your chance for a game changer, time to craft your legacy. Oh I know, I know…President Jimmy Carter tried it back in the 70s and look where it got him.  Here’s what he said on national tv on April 18th, 1977.  “Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.” (If you’d like to read the entire text, here’s a link.)

Wow, you could just recycle that opening paragraph! I know some  will cry plagiarism, but I think President Carter would be honored if you opened your talk just that way….and then give the good man credit, naturally. But it is time for  an unpleasant talk Mr. Obama….that our way of life, as much as I hate to say it, has to change, should have changed 40 years ago. No one loves cranking the ac more than me…hey, I’m a southern girl and I remember when we first got AC at my house in ‘bama. It was like a icy gift from the gods, but we probably stopped playing outside as much…the yin and yang of cool air. But if we don’t change, like yesterday, our children and grandchildren will hit a wall like a subcompact hitting a concrete barrier at 90 miles an hour when the oil runs out. Bad, bad things could happen as the world fights over what’s left. Time for alternative energy Mr. President. Past time. It’s your job to step up to the plate, and many people from both sides of the aisle will stand behind you. You don’t have the votes? Get them. OH yeah, I don’t care that it’s too close to an election. It’s go time, Mr. President.


43 Responses


    This is how he’s seen from the UK. Despite everything, for now, I still believe in him.

  2. ha ha ha!!!!!!

  3. Bravo! Bravo!

  4. Cheers and applause. 😀

  5. Bravo! Well put and spot on. Let’s hope he reads this 🙂
    With “the most powerful country on earth” badge, also comes the greatest responsibility… let’s start standing up and taking that responsibility to lead others in the right direction!

  6. Well said. The sad thing about the spill is that it has been a long time coming. We are so dependent on oil, it’s horrible, and if we don’t move away from it, another major spill like this is simply fated to happen again. Our species has gotten so arrogant. We treat this world as if it’s ours, and forget that there are plenty of other species here that we endanger with our actions. Hopefully this stops.

  7. Brilliant! I could not think of a better word than cluster*&$@ for what has happened, but you have provided one… boondoggle.
    I think it would be wise for Mr. Obama to track you down and pay you a visit to become part of his speech writing team – hey you’ve already found him the perfect opening.
    Nice post.

  8. Thank you.

  9. If splitting an atom can create nuclear energy that competes with oil and coal, just think of how much energy you can produce from that Higgs Boson particle they have been trying to find at cERN

  10. Very thought-provoking. Not a fan of this President, but I don’t blame him for this problem. Hate the thought of extra money coming from my already-lean pockets right now – and usually enjoy your “fluff” blogs better – but I gotta admit….this one will cause me to think a bit….at least for today. Thanks.

  11. Great post! So true and thank you for saying it. I was watching something on PBS and saw a clip of that Jimmy Carter speech and loved that he was willing to say that. Oh how times have changed. I think Obama should be willing to sacrifice a second term (if that’s what it comes to) to make real change happen. Like you said, it’s beyond time…

  12. I would rather have 4 years of campaign Obama than 8 years of President Obama. President Obama always seems to deliver awesome speeches he is always saying we are going to close Gitmo, end the war, prosecute war criminals, and bring in clean energy. But actions are more powerful than words and it seems that Obama and the rest of the Democrats are scarred of doing anything for fear that they will be voted out, but I have some news for them, the Republicans don’t care you will STILL be voted out anyways so why not make a difference while you still can?

  13. I live about 5 miles from the Gulf. (Crystal River,FL) If the wind is right (or maybe wrong) you can smell the oil! By the way I’m from So. PA originally, I read your HH Blog EVERY day, Donna!!!

  14. Wonderful article. I hope that it really is read, and that Obama has the guts (and/or other body parts) to do it.

  15. “our children and grandchildren will hit a wall like a subcompact hitting a concrete barrier at 90 miles an hour”

    We already have it’s just we are still airborne from the initial impact and haven’t hit the pavement yet.

  16. Wow. I came to this post from the WordPress front page, and was a little afraid about which way this would slant. I think the one thing I wasn’t expecting was a clear-sighted open letter that turned aside from the hate-filled diatribes I’ve been seeing to become something that someone really should put in front of the President before he goes on the air tonight. Thank you. There’s tremendous sense here – I hope it’s contagious.

  17. And what would you like to replace oil with? Wind and solar aren’t going to cut it, so your choices are to dam up more rivers or go fully nuclear. Take your pick. All of these resource and energy “crises” are government-created or -encouraged to begin with. Obama is in exactly the situation he wants to be in–one where he “has no choice” but to take over another industry while the groundlings applaud. Wake up and see how you’re being manipulated, people.

  18. Tad…I think, as do many people more expert than I, that NOTHING will replace oil really…you’re right there. But face it….it’s going away. It will take wind, solar, hydrogen and yes nuclear power to replace it. But we really have no choice. It’s not like…”oh, oil is so yesterday, let’s use something else!” We must start now to make all the other options more viable, it’s later than we think, I fear.

  19. I disagree nuclear power is not a viable alternative to oil, the only thing worse than another “Gulf Oil Spill” is another Chernobyl

  20. […] Dear Mr. President, I watched you this morning on tv strolling the beaches of the Gulf, wiping away a trickle of sweat…hot down there isn't it? I mean, seriously…it gets really blazing hot down there. The Gulf  also has the world's most beautiful beaches, in my humble opinion, though I admit to being a bit biased in this area. … Read More […]

  21. I remember a country who spent loads of youngsters and taxpayers money to invade another country for its oil, and now they are receiving huge amounts of oil at their own beaches. For free! God has got a sick sense of humour, alright. Just kidding … or did I just say that it was God who was kidding? Either way, I think that your blog post is great, because it makes people think about their behaviour. We Europeans are in the lead when it comes to enviromental thinking, but we, as well as you Americans, have to do a lot more. If the rest of the world lived like we do in Europa-America-land, there would have to be six Earths or something to provide all the resources needed.

    We should all go back to live like we did in 1815 or 1648 or even better: the summer of 1095 – a couple of months before the Pope suggested the rather unlucky idea that we should start a crusade.

    Let’s go back to Beach 1095, everyone! The Dark Ages weren’t so dark after all.

  22. We at WORLD AFRICAN CONGRESS, WAFCO enjoyed this open letter to President Obama because it embodies essentially what many concerned Americans desire to say to him. President Obama is still new to the office. He has a long way to go and at the pace he is moving, he might get there. He won the election essentially because of his promise to change America and we believe that if American people would be a little bit more patient and work with him, he may infact actually get the job done. We urge him to start talking less and listen more to the American people and their needs. CHAIRMAN IKOKWU BENNEY, WAFCO

  23. Great letter, but based on past performances (financial bailout, worthless health care “reform,” and escalation of horrific wars and drone attacks, to name a few) I doubt that Obama has the guts, courage or interest to do anything meaningful.

    His response to the BP disaster so far looks like it’s based on “what would Bush do?” thinking. So much for the change we were promised…

  24. I couldn’t agree more with your post. It’s been too long a period of broken policy and idealistic thinking when it came to changing our country’s dependence on oil. Our President can be as forward-thinking as anyone on changing our present oil & energy policies. But, he will still have to deal with a blindly partisan, dysfunctional and corrupt congress and senate to get anything done. I truly feel with this present scenario, nothing will change. Why? Because democracy no longer works. Not as our forefathers who began this country saw democracy work. We now live in the days of the best democracy money can buy. Just ask BP and the Minerals Management Service…

  25. BP has an incentive to stop this leak asap as they are hemorrhaging millions of dollars per day. The oil giant stands to lose billions from this little ‘boondoggle’ since they get fined thousands of dollars for every barrel of crude that spills into the Gulf. They have tried every trick in the book to plug the gushing hole, and now their only option left is to drill relief wells which will take months.

    In spite of all this, it amazes me that Bob Dudley can go on tv and talk to reporters from Houston with all the cool, non-sweating composure of a pro-golfer. When he talks about capping one of the worst oil disasters since the Exxon Valdez, one would think he was talking about the fundamentals of his chip shot.
    Given BP’s smiling, relaxed attitude about all of this, maybe we shouldn’t be worried. The Gulf Stream will carry the oil slick as far north as North Carolina before it curls its way into the middle Atlantic Ocean. A whale washed ashore on Jones Beach on Long Island the other day but the news assured us it was unrelated to the BP oil spill.

    These sorts of things happen, and there are backup plans and backup plans for the backup plans. The engineers who built the Deep Water Horizon are very smart and know what they’re doing – they are not simply a bunch of knuckleheads who are following their gut on what to do next. This whole thing has turned into a toxic PR disaster for BP, and you are right that it is time to harness the technology of clean, renewable sources of energy more than ever given America’s current consumption needs. But I have confidence (as I always do) that this is not the end of the world and our way of life as we know it. I do not cry over spilt milk, but I cry for the fish that will die as a result of this disaster and for the impact it will have on the environment and economy for years and perhaps decades to come.

  26. How about I take responsibility because that is what
    winners do? Blaming others is what losers do. Or
    how about I know that it is Yankee ingenuity that
    is going to solve this problem, NOT the government
    or BP. Any investors that want to back some inovative
    entrepeneur we will give them the same tax breaks that
    the churches and commnity organizations get. Worried
    about the EPA fining you for not dotting your
    I’s and crossing your T’s? No problem, I will protect
    you from their overzealousness and reward you for
    your effort. ANY EFFORT that does not make the
    situation worse. (hard to imagine what would).
    This is an oppurtunity to ADD wealth to our economy
    instead of redistributing it. This is an oppurtunity
    to ADD jobs, other than Census jobs which do
    nothing, but create the illusion that the economy
    is turning around.

  27. Couldn’t agree more Harry…plenty of blame to go around on this one, and I think ingenuity will also be a big part of the fix….let’s get cranking.

  28. Word. And I’m a big fan of President Obama. I’m not enjoying watching my satisfaction ratings of him plummet with every passing day.

  29. If you honestly believe that Barack Obama is the only one who can do something about this then you’re really naive. If you really think he is the main person to blame for all of this, then I cannot help but wonder about your intelligence.

    Five years ago, I was one of many who blamed George W. Bush for not responding immediately to the Katrina disaster. My father – who also disliked Bush – pointed out that Bush or any other president who would have been in the White House at the time was not to blame. The President was up against Mother Nature and New Orleans’ location and would have lost no matter what.

    There are too many people who are to blame for this oil spill. The Obama Administration, along with the previous administrations (Bush and Clinton included), and especially British Petroleum are to blame. And I cannot help but wonder how long it will take for Americans to realize how much their previously complacent attitude toward the exploitation of our natural resources would effect the environment. You can’t just blame the politicians and businessmen for this. We’re ALL to blame, because we allowed it to happened.

  30. I wish you had read the post more carefully because then YOU would have realized I don’t blame President Obama for the disaster in any way at all. And did I say he was the only one who could do anything about it? I think I said that we will all have to change our ways….but it starts at the top…that’s where the President is. But thanks for kind of reading it.

  31. While I agree completely that we are desperately in need of reforming our ideas about energy and the way we use it, there are some greater costs that will come of the kind of approach you’re thinking of.

    If you raise the electricity prices dramatically, what happens to people like me, who have disabilities that necessitate climate control? I faint if I get too hot, and my ‘too hot’ is a lot lower than most people’s. I’ve fainted when it was as cool as low 80s. There is little that works on my condition; for the most part, I just have to hide in air conditioned places.

    And I’m not the only one who’ll be hurt. What about people who require oxygen around the clock? Their breathing apparatus is run by electricity. What about people on life support?

    The worst part of this is that some 60% of people with disabilities live below the poverty line. An increase in their electricity costs will make the hard choices more likely – do you pay for rent, utilities, food, or medication/medical care? What do you give up, when that’s all you can afford?

    We need to decrease our usage as a society, yes. And we need cleaner energy sources. But if the way we are going to force these changes on people is to raise the cost, we have to think about the people we will harm. And yes, I agree with you, the changes will have to be forced – we haven’t shown any impetus towards changing on our own!


  32. I think this is what they call karma for BP and it has nothing really to do with President Obama. If there is something in there for him that would be: What will he or they are going to do about it now and for tomorrow.

  33. I too am saddened at this disaster…so much damage will be done to local businesses down there, not to mention loss of life and natural resources….I too would like to see viable alternatives to crude oil

    I’ve read about the possibility of perhaps using algae as a biological source of oil that can be refined into gasoline and diesel…since a biological source of oil would be different from crude oil I think the idea then is that gasoline or diesel made from a biological source of oil would also burn more cleanly. Algae is also very renewable (regrows rapidly) and is plentiful and you can get a pretty decent yield (26,000 gallons per hectare potential yield…sounds like a decent yield to me)….and it would create much needed private sector jobs in algae growing and harvesting and extracting the oil from said algae (don’t know what you’d do with what’s left after you extract the oil from algae…perhaps make seaweed crackers? yuck…LOL)

    geothermal and hydroelectric would probably be our only other viable alternatives…wind and solar are good but it takes awhile to store energy and it’s doesn’t bring in a whole lot of energy…..though if we can start making more energy efficient products who knows….maybe wind and solar will then become viable alternatives

  34. all I can hope for is that this and other domestic oil spill disasters (like the most recent one in Salt Lake City) will make them see the benefit of having stricter safety protocols in place before drilling

  35. Obama should admit he was wrong for not accepting the aid from other countries to help clean up the spill at the beginning. Then he should accept all of the help that is being offered.
    He should not prohibit drilling because of this. We need oil. We use it to make our country more successful.
    Yes we do need to find other forms of energy, but it will take many many years. Meantime we need the oil and should find it in our own country.
    Please look out for the welfare of the USA Mr. President.

  36. this toxic devastation is terrible…..
    Did You Know?
    BP engineers alerted federal regulators at the Minerals Management Service that they were having difficulty controlling the Macondo well (Deepwater Horizon) six weeks before the disaster, according to e- mails released by the Energy and Commerce Committee.

    “I don’t think this would have happened on Exxon’s watch,” Tom Bower, author of “The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century,” said in a June 11 Bloomberg Television interview. “They’d be much more careful and much more conscious of the need to supervise subcontractors.”

    WELL excuse me your sainted Exxon……. and Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

    Let’s just take a look at a few of your past misdemeanours, and then we can consider again – if the moratorium on deepwater drilling should be lifted, and place it all firmly back into your nice clean hands!

  37. Wow. I check your blog on a regular basis and have never seen this many replies. These folks can’t all be from the Baltimore area…

  38. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!! Probably one of your best posts. As a parent of 13 y/o twins, I worry about what their future will be, not just personally, but the world we’re leaving them. Sure recycling is a step, but we need to take longer strides, with a sense of urgency, because as you so succintly put it–time is running out.


  39. Bravo! Well-written and insightful. Thank you.

  40. What you are asking for is called “socialism.” We all need to be more responsible in this Country but I do not want the President “shaping his legacy” to start telling me where to throw my paper wads. How about you stop looking for someone to tell you what to do and write a bill about it, and start making the right choices for yourself? Just a thought. I think we all have enough brains to do the right thing instead of waiting for a bill to be passedt over it. I am certain there has been enough bill passing already and that has yet to change anything. Change comes from within not from Government.

  41. Congrats Donna for your post hitting the “freshly pressed” tab of WP.

    I was listening to an interview on NPR of a couple of scientists speaking of the BP disaster and one of them said something that perked up my ears and brought up something that has been stewing in my head for about a year.

    Peak Oil, climate change, gutting the earth of resources, food shortages, pollution of water are only symptoms of the real problem.

    The real problem is there are simply too many humans on the earth.

    I fully agree we have to change our way of thinking and living. By “we” I mean the industrialized nations. Add China and India to the mix taking their first steps towards a petroleum based society… well, the earth simply can’t sustain two billion people living the way 300 million people in the U.S. do. But changing our way of thinking and living will only get us so far and I think heads of state know this.

    I don’t think it will be long before there is all out war to “thin the herd” and the flash point will be Afghanistan.

  42. The president has better things to do than to read this letter. Like clean up the oil spill.

  43. you’d be right, Dina…..I was born in Indiana but now live in New York State…:-P

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