Dear Mr. President

By Bruce Buschel

Thank you. Not sure you hear those two words enough, at least not in English, so I repeat: Thank you. (In Russian, spasiba.

Thank you for testing the elasticity of our democracy. Thank you for illuminating the loopholes in our Constitution. Thank you for pulling out of the Paris Accord, the Iran Deal, Puerto Rico, and Stormy Daniels. And thank you for getting someone to read this letter to you.

Thank you for showing the world our unfathomable empathy for ruthless despots like Putin and Duterte and Erdogan. America will take no marching orders from foo-foo, first-world, fact-based nations. Nyet spasiba! We have God and Mike Pence on our side. (BTW, when the V.P. has his annual checkup, does he see a medical man or a clergyman?) 

On a personal note, I want to thank you for strengthening the bonds of one nuclear family. My two sons, after leaving home, rarely consulted their parents on political matters (or any other matter for that matter); no questions about which candidates to support or what bicycles to buy. Doggedly independent, they knew their way around this American life, all issues great and small. And fended for themselves.

Then The Election. The first call came in around 9 p.m. Shock and awe. The next trembled with fear and loathing. Your victory was as stunning to them as to you, and provided as electrifying a jolt to this family as to yours, which is to say it was anxiety-provoking, sleep-depriving, and damned discombobulating. My sovereign sons started calling home regularly to discuss kompromat and emoluments and golden showers (which are not necessarily related, but could be by the time Mueller is finished).

Their calls usually ended with the question heard round the world: How the hell did this happen? 

Any answers beyond the obvious were beyond me. I pointed to Nate Silver and Carlos Danger and 100 million voters who didn’t vote. And then to Hillary herself: What other mistress of a mighty political machine could lose to a young progressive black man in 2008 and then to an old reactionary white man in 2016? That voice, that baggage, that entitlement. Oy. The best I could muster was “We’ll get through this, boys — the family that panics together takes Xanax together.” My wife had a refillable script and Medicare Part D. Slava bogu. (Thank God.)

My wife, by the way, is the fourth cousin nine times removed of George Washington. Yes, that George Washington, the president who could not tell a lie. Truth is, although my sons, like this nation, were born in Philadelphia, after The Election, they felt like strangers in a strange land, immigrants in their own country, and sought some small sanctuary in the timorous bosom of family.

Phones continued ringing at all hours, depending on the crudeness and mendacity of your tweets. Calls were followed by emails, texts, and links. So many links. To international trade wars and local gun shows and upcoming events in cities (Charlottesville) and states (Wisconsin) we never took much interest in. Thank you for the re-education. Your Apprentice Presidency enrolled us in a virtual university to study everything from the F.B.I. chain of command to D.I.Y. plans for building walls too tall and bridges too far. We now know India has more Muslims than Iran and Iraq combined. We grasp the subtleties of being a target of a federal investigation as opposed to the subject of one. 

A theatrical thank you for Anthony Scaramucci, who apparently wandered in from a commedia dell’arte performance of “The Iceman Cometh.” One could easily imagine Hope Hicks’s saloon filled with drunken dreamers named The Mooch, Sebastian Gorka, Chris Christie, Reince Priebus, Rex (The Till) Tillerson, General Flynn, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III hanging on the every word of garrulous Comey, the tall teller of tall and devastating tales.

Thank you for reinvigorating the Masochistic Mainstream Media (3M). The more you spank them, the more obsequious their reportage. The more obsequious, the more they delight in delivering lamentations about the crumbling republic and venturing predictions about everything they deemed unpredictable in the previous segment. From the moment you glided down the escalator and stepped on Mexicans, 3M has trained their cameras on you. They became your 24-hour PR machine. They elevated your 140 characters to Monroe Doctrine status. They repeated your every gaffe ad infinitum. They fixated on the length of your hair, your ties, your fingers, your Pinocchio nose. They helped get you elected once and they are doubling down as they luxuriate in your Pornographic Presidency. 

3M broadcasts begin with “Breaking News” and five heads pop onto the screen and the moderator asks an interminable question to prove he or she has done his or her homework and the viewers are left with questions of their own: How did all these print journalists get so primped and camera-ready? When do all these investigative reporters actually do their investigating? Who buys a Washington Post when they are spoon-fed the big scoop the night before? 

Thank you, Mr. President, for not relying on 3M newspapers for your morning briefings, but opting instead to watch “Fox and Friends” whilst scarfing down an Egg McMuffin. Or two. With ketchup. We understand your obsession with Fox: Mika Brzezinski is just too much after getting so few Zs. If C-Span is cheerless, Rachel Maddow is the gravedigger of journalism — she buries the lead so deep that Lawrence O’Donnell has to disinter it an hour later. Only Steve Schmidt manages to be enraged and eloquent at the same time. 

As for the so-called late-night comedians, we, like you, Mr. Potus, find them to be unfunny pedestrian vaudevillians. You have taken us to a higher form of humor, darker and more sophisticated, more Gogol than Gervais, more Nabokov than Louis C.K. You bring Russian komediya into our political culture when you name an E.P.A. chief who considers clean water and clean air as dirty jokes, when you appoint federal judges who have never spent a day in a court, when you send your wife to campaign against cyberbullies even as you censure your own citizens and institutions as “sad,” “weak,” “stupid,” “failed,” and “moronic.” Not sure about the swamp, but you have definitely drained all the laughter from the nation’s capital, if not the nation. Spasiba, Kloun vo Glave (Clown in Chief).

When our family gathered at Easter, the conversation naturally rolled around to The Egg Man in the Oval Office. Rather than giving you short shrift, we embraced the whole of your humanity and sang along with John Lennon: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” We took a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and tried to face our own racism, avarice, homophobia, pettiness, hubris, lust, vulgarity, insecurity, myopia, xenophobia, sadism, perfidy, dishonesty, misogyny, superiority, and vindictiveness. 

Narcissism was a stumper: Can narcissism be addressed by looking in the mirror?

One last thank you, Mr. Prezident, this one from my wife, who says you had a hand in goosing, galvanizing, and energizing women all over the world. Spasiba. Between your beauty contests and trailer confessions and revolving wives and (hardly) hushed-up affairs and leering at your daughter, well, you have helped turn a hashtag into a crusade. In this tapsalteerie world, you have done more for women than Hillary; she is always preaching to the choir — you have given voice to the muted and the meek, the muffled masses yearning to breathe free.

My wife thanks you. My sons thank you. My country? As you like to say, “We’ll see about that.”

Sincere spasiba,
Bruce Buschel
Citizen


Bruce Buschel is a writer, director, and producer. He lives in Bridgehampton.