Dear Miss Mannerly:
I understand why you generally steer clear of talking about politics in your column, as all mention of politics, sadly, tends to lower the level of discourse among people who might (conceivably) get along otherwise. Still, I must beg your indulgence and ask a question that touches on politics.
Let me start by saying I would like my President to be polite, charming and well-mannered. That’s in addition to making good decisions, of course. But if I have to settle for one or the other, which seems to be the case here, I will take the good decisions every time. My fear is that, since so many people are swayed by charm, we will get another bad-news, “progressive” President based on appearance and not substance. My fear is not unreasonable, as this worked in favor of the man who became our previous President, and for his re-election.
Lately, our current President has been saying negative things about someone who has been dead for months. Some of it I'm sure is absolutely justified, but it still doesn’t go over very well and would be better left unsaid. This deceased person was a unique combination of Vietnam POW and bullying son-of-a-gun who, admittedly, had said and done some things that were terribly damaging to the President. But he is dead now and can’t defend himself, and I have to wonder if our President’s response, months later, is appropriate.
Putting it rather bluntly, Miss Mannerly, could you please try to use any influence you may have to shut the President up? I wrote to my favorite commentator, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to ask him the very same thing –- in fact, my original letter appeared on the “reader comments” page, where he or someone on his staff would surely see it –- but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask you to step in as well. The President’s rants will haunt the next election, along with many other things he has said without thinking or explaining. Is there anything that you and/or anyone else can do?
First, as a note of reassurance, Miss Mannerly wishes to observe that among the current crop of candidates challenging the President, there is not one person whom she finds charming in the least. It would be unkind to say this to their faces, but if we’re going to be honest amongst ourselves, isn’t it true? Miss Mannerly would not want to be seated next to any one of them at a dinner party, particularly the older gentleman who likes to get too familiar with the ladies and the very tall man in flannel who gesticulates wildly, asks for dirt between courses, and insists on jumping up onto tabletops. Besides horrifying the hosts, that’s the quickest way to ruin a beautiful place setting.
Worse, they would all be talking about nothing but politics at dinner, which can be quite tedious and maddening as you know. Being politicians, they would only pretend to listen, and they would also be asking for money.
Actually, the President can be quite a charming man. This often comes through in live video that the media can’t avoid airing. I think he can be quite funny as well. He presents himself quite sincerely, and that is rare and refreshing in the world of politics.
Still, Miss Mannerly shares your concern, while recognizing that for over two years –- his entire time in office –- the President has been frustrated by a very real “witch hunt.” Still, he needs to focus. It’s not as if he didn’t have enough topics at his fingertips; he should be focusing on those instead of heaping disrespect on someone who has died. Such comments are jarring, inappropriate, and distracting from the important issues at hand. Miss Mannerly does not know how to make him more aware of this; perhaps someone on his staff will see this column and try to make an impression on him.