Dear Aunt Sophie,
I recently attended the funeral of a highly respected civil rights figure. I would have been there even if I’d had to go as a private person, but, as it happens, I was invited because I’m a member of a very exclusive club. I know that sounds elitist, so I suppose I’d better explain because elitism isn’t the real me. I can’t help belonging to this club. It’s automatic if you’ve ever been president of the United States, so you see it’s nothing I would ever have chosen for myself. I’ve also won the Nobel Peace Prize, but this isn’t germane and I rarely mention it. If I constantly thought about my status it would make me a less worthy human being, and I strive constantly to be worthy.
Nowadays people don’t understand the concept of worthiness. They seem to think they’re entitled to everything that comes their way. It’s extremely unbecoming. I’ve always been keenly aware that I was unworthy to be president, but the people spoke and that was that. I’ve always tried to keep the knowledge that I’m unworthy in the forefront of my mind, and I also try to show by example that I think the whole country should be more like me. When I was president I even carried on an unworthy foreign policy.
You may recall a time when some of our fellow Americans were taken hostage by some folks halfway around the world, where they have a completely different concept of virtuousness. I alone understood that the reason they were held against their will for such a long time was that their will to be free seemed unworthy under the circumstances. After all, they were there because America had sent them, so they were there as an extension of our national unworthiness. I quickly realized it was up to me to convince these fine people who were merely trying to teach us an important lesson about humility that we did not consider ourselves in any way superior to them - or to anyone else. Just as I was getting to the point where I was sure they were going to respond positively, I was voted out of office. And when the next president finished what I’d begun, he took credit for my accomplishment.
That was a long digression, wasn’t it? Digression is a fault of mine, except in marriage, of course. Anyway, at this funeral, with the eyes of the whole country upon me, I seized the opportunity to remind our nation once again that it must always strive to be worthy. To me, warrantless wiretapping is a manifestation of our national unworthiness, so when I was asked to speak at the funeral I realized I had been handed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to slip an important lesson into my eulogy right in the smirking face of a president who is even less worthy than I. So I explained that the deceased and her late husband had also been victims of wiretapping. It was a pretty smooth segue if I do say so myself, but some people think I should not have used a funeral to make this point. I don’t see why not, especially since the minister also made an attempt to teach the current president some much-needed humility.
I always pride myself on learning from my mistakes. Could you tell me why anyone would fault me?
It used to be considered bad form to attend a funeral for any purpose other than remembering the dearly departed, but hey, this is the new millennium and after all, you are a left-winger.
The people faulting you no doubt belong to that reactionary segment of society that thinks the word “inappropriate” has broader application than the way it’s used by your average sensitivity facilitator. For example, they might use “inappropriate” to describe an American president begging forgiveness of an enemy that had just perpetrated an act of war against the United States.
But why did you limit your comments to a few warrantless wiretaps when you had the perfect chance to rise above the petty concerns of a few thousand mourners and address the wider world on the very matters they were hoping to hear discussed when they tuned in to watch the funeral?
Like the Danish cartoons, for example. Everyone was waiting for you to remind Americans that no matter what they might think of a group of rabid, perverted, murdering terrorists, they should never disregard their obligation to be tolerant of different ways of relieving stress. As an aside, you might have suggested to the current occupant of your former residence that if he were serious about enjoying peaceful relations with our Moslem earth-mates he wouldn’t restrict his efforts to inviting a group of imams to break Ramadan fast in the White House but would lead by example and convert to Islam.
This would have been the perfect time to remind Americans of the proven staying power of your energy policy, stressing the interesting fact that your economic strategy was so visionary that economists had to coin a new word to describe it – stagflation.
You also blew an unprecedented opportunity to discuss social security, tax breaks for the rich, women’s rights, a national speed limit, trans-fats, baby stroller standards and the Oscar nominations.
Next time you’re invited to a public funeral, have your talking points in order. Funerals simply aren’t what they used to be.
Good luck and God bless.
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