A TALE FROM THE 47TH
“It’s campaign hell, that’s what it is.”
President Compton was thinking aloud again. A President generally keeps his thoughts to himself but sometimes they escape. The privacy of his thoughts is the only true arena for competing actions to earn validity. At least the technology had not yet been invented to capture that!
“I’ve been campaigning to keep this difficult job since I took the oath.” he mused absently fingering a patch of newly gray and now thinning hair.
A sudden rap on the door and in rushed Beth like a gusting wind. Beth has supervised the White House staff from day one never abandoning her brisk mannerism.
“I think you should read this sir.” she said while depositing an already opened letter onto his desk. And then she vanished in a flurry of clicking heels and rustling papers leaving a wisp of faint perfume.
“Dam” he said aloud. “Can you at least wait for a response?”
“I’ll read it when I get around to it” he thought defiantly, “and not before.”
Soon the inscrutable woes of the Presidency gave way to momentary pause and curiosity. He unfolded the page and began to read:
“Dear Mr. President:
My name is Allen. I am 17. I am also captain of the debating team at my school. My team and I was wondering sir...”
Suddenly President Compton put the letter aside and took up his pen.
“This requires a very personal reply” he thought. President Compton had never been particularly fond of his penmanship. It was irregular and seemed to change with every sentence as though written by a different hand. He felt it betrayed his steady, poised demeanor. Never the less he wrote as follows:
I read your letter with great interest.
To seek the office of American President is a contentious pursuit to be certain. Any position of power is besieged from all sides, even sometimes by your closest allies. There are those who seek to interpret the public good according to their own agenda (special interest groups and lobbyists not withstanding).
There are many 'bullies' in the political arena, some have amassed great wealth. Many of the undecided are waiting to pounce should you happen to appear weakened. The unrelenting pendulum of voter preference permits your opponent to indulge in fact free often speculative hyperbole. However, a president must always remain ‘presidential’. No one can embrace the full dimension of this high office until they have taken the oath. And then of course it’s too late to change your mind!
You’ll need to create a thick skin for yourself and your team.
So to answer your question Allen, it is you. It is for you and your team. It is for the 1000’s of young thinkers who will one day address our national woes with fresh and renewed perspective. Whenever I wonder why the work is worthwhile my thoughts turn to the motivated and capable like yourself and your team who will one day build upon my work.
Yes there are certainly tense and stressful moments, but there are also matchless interludes of extraordinary perfection. An American President enjoys the full spectrum of praise and derision.
Besides, the food is outstanding!”
Yours Very Truly,
Brian Francis Compton
47th President of these United States