Column: The Public Eye: Ten Christmas Wishes By Bob Burnett

Friday December 30, 2005

Dear Santa, 

Here are 10 political wishes that you can grant and make my Christmas.  


10. Come out of hiding, Al Gore. The Democratic Party needs you as their environmental spokesperson. After Hurricane Katrina, and the other disastrous storms of 2005, the American people don’t have to be convinced that there’s a problem with global climate change. They need to know what to do. You understand this. Your speech, “When there is no vision, the people perish,” was a superb first step. Al, you can provide the leadership that the party and the nation need to deal with this peril. Come out, come out, wherever you are. 


9. Let go, John Kerry. You’re acting out the lyrics from Lucinda Williams’ song, “Well it’s over, I know it, but I can’t let go.” You lost your bid for the presidency. You couldn’t defeat an inept president who made one disastrous mistake after another. It’s over. Quit acting as if you’re the leader of the Democratic Party. You aren’t even the leader of the Senate minority. You had your chance. Please don’t run again. Let go, John. 

8. Get a job, Bill Clinton. Charging thousands of dollars for inspirational speeches isn’t a real job. It’s celebrity fluff. How about taking on a challenge? Rebuild your reputation by making a contribution that will strengthen America. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina left a mess that the Bush administration is unwilling to clean up. America needs the kind of leadership that you can provide. Move to New Orleans. Become our champion for the reconstruction. Bring us together. Take on a real job, Bill. It’s way too early for you to retire to a life of Oprah appearances and golf. 


7. Get out, Joe Lieberman. The Democratic Party has a big tent but no more room for you. Either quit backing President Bush and blasting your fellow Dems, or leave the party. You’re worse than an irritant. You are an embarrassment. Your statements seem scripted by Karl Rove. You’re not a “centrist” Dem. You are a Republican. Get out of the party, Joe. 


6. Get a grip, Hillary Clinton. It’s time for you to quit being coy about your position on Iraq. The Democratic Party needs leadership in 2006 and you can provide it. You have an easy re-election campaign for the Senate. No harm will come to you by taking a strong position on Iraq. Support John Murtha’s position. America needs a leader not another fundraiser-in-chief. Get a grip, Hillary. 


5. Leave town, Howard Dean. You’ve heard it said, “they can take the boy out of the country, but they can’t take the country out of the boy.” That’s the problem with your new job as DNC chair. It keeps you in Washington when you really should be working full-time with grass-roots activists. The heart of the party isn’t in D.C. It’s in the rest of the country—the sane part. There’s a lot of anger out here in the boonies. It needs to be harnessed. You can provide this leadership. Get out of D.C. town, Howard. 


4. Get an agenda, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. A laundry list of scintillating ideas isn’t an agenda—it’s detritus from brainstorming sessions conducted by overpaid Washington consultants. The country needs a few clear notions about who Democrats are. Help us out. What do the Dems stand for besides not being Bushites? Get a real agenda, Nancy and Harry. 


3. Convert to Christianity, George Bush. Abandon the fundamentalist pabulum you’ve been spouting—the “Weekly Reader” summary of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelations. Read the Gospels. Pay attention to the teachings of Jesus: The admonition to tell the truth. Not to murder. To care for the poor. Step into the light, George. Before it’s too late for you to save your soul. 


2. Pay attention, Congress. While you’re obsessed with garnering the next big contribution, the country is going down the drain. There’s this guy Osama bin Laden and his band of thugs, Al Qaeda. While you’re wasting our money on a pointless war in Iraq, they’re gaining momentum. By the way, the people down in New Orleans who got left behind in the flight from Hurricane Katrina are still left behind. One more thing, there’s this country named China. They’re about to eat our lunch. Do your job, Congress. Pay attention. 


1. Wake up, America. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport. Eternal vigilance isn’t a video game. Everything you really care about is slipping away. It’s not just about you. It’s about your family and friends—everyone you love. Wake up, America, the bad guys are winning. 


Thanks Santa. If you grant my wishes I promise to be good for at least a week. 



Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bobburnett@comcast.net.