Dear Mr. President:
I know I was supposed to spend my Thanksgiving dinner explaining Obamacare to my friends and loved ones. I know you and your staff spent a lot of time and money developing “talking points” for all of us to bone up on, and I just didn’t get around to it. Fact is, I didn’t even read the briefing. I know that you feel these are very important issues, and that many people are poorly informed. And I saw how earnestly you urged us to join hands to get everyone on the same page, so that we could move forward.
I know that you even took the time during your own holiday to tweet to all of us:
“Celebrating Thanksgiving. Lighting the Hanukkah candles. Talking about health insurance. Gotta love dinners like these.”
Well, I let all of you down. At our Thanksgiving dinner (yes, we had a menorah, too), the conversation wandered from the menu you gently suggested to another menu entirely — we talked about the food. My, wasn’t there a lot of it — including those highly-unfashionable, dangerous, and distinctly incorrect sweet potatoes with a browned marshmallow topping. We talked about family — old stories, like when Uncle Weiner caught his daughter’s boyfriend hiding under the covers. We talked about Grandma, who was back in the hospital, and we comforted Grandpa, who seemed more frail, and a little forlorn, without Grandma to sit beside him.
We talked together from early afternoon until nearly midnight. We watched football games, drank wine, and a few adventurous folk knocked back a shot or two of something called “Fighting Cock,” a bourbon of such incendiary character that even seasoned tipplers gasped with respect.
We did talk from time to time of things we were grateful for. There were toasts. There was a crackling fire, and pies, stuffed dates, homemade fudge.
But there was no talk of health insurance. Nary a peep. Somehow, in this setting, introducing the topic felt unseemly, and your direction that we should do so took on an uncomfortably intrusive tone.
You see, Mr. President, as immediate and urgent as some things may seem to you, they necessarily play a smaller role in our lives. Removed from the clarity of vision that enlightens the thinking of the great, and far distant from the distilling effects of Washington, where priorities are seen in such sharp relief, we live more muddled lives. We concern ourselves with matters you would find trivial, with your eye on the long term and the stern judges of history.
In fact, you may be surprised, and even a little dismayed, to know how little many of us think about the things you would wish us to think about. We are distracted by what we call “real life.” This is something that rarely intrudes into the columned corridors of the great, but we find it compelling.
In real life, noble ambitions have little effect on actual outcomes. Aspirations often do not translate into achievements, so we tend not to confuse the two. We distinguish between “different interpretations” and something we call “lies.” When we think about the future, our concern is for our safety, comfort and well-being, not our legacies. This warps our thinking.
Please therefore forgive us if we pay little attention to your kind exhortations that our family holidays be spent in the service of your visions and your ambitions. We have our own, small though they be, and would request just a little time to ourselves to indulge them.
The Daily Cannibal