Dear Mr President,
Welcome to Stockholm! We’re very pleased to see you. Most of us, indeed most of Europe, would have checked your box had we been eligible to vote in the US elections, so there was quite a collective sigh of relief when the White House became Chateau’bama. We were all bushed after the last dude. And your visit kinda makes Sweden top dog in Scandinavia this week so thanks very much.
Totes understand, of course, that you’re only here because a visit was hastily planned during your Snowden spat with President Putin; I get Putin makes you see red, but it strikes me that Mr S has swapped one kind of not-happening surveillance for another, although he’s conveniently turning a blind eye to the blatantly obvious there. Me thinks he’s gonna need rose-coloured spectacles pretty dang soon. Mind you, Snowden has a point. What’s up with the NSA? Europeans don’t like being spied on by America, Mr President. But I guess you already knew that.
Nevertheless, I hope you and your 600-strong entourage are enjoying our city. How many were expecting to land in Bern? You avoid the Euro either way, but odd that there’s so much confusion between the Swedes and the Swiss when neutrality seems to amplify national traits and home interests. Also interesting that you have Sweden down as a high-risk country based on one dead Prime Minister who was walking the streets sans security late one Friday night some 27 years ago. Think that says more about Swedish society than Swedish security, although admittedly we also lost our favourite Foreign Minister to a nutter with a knife, but again, no security – at her request. We are not big on handguns and weapons in Sweden. We generally feel safe.
Sweden does have other fortes too though – and not all of them come in flat packs with weird-looking screws and tools. If you get the opportunity, drop in on a waste recycling plant. We’re dab hands at incinerating garbage to harness heat and energy. We only send around 4% of our waste to landfill – just imagine if you could get serious recycling and green-thinking going at grass root level in the US. Fewer cars and more bikes, for example. We’d be happy to offer our input to reduce your output. America’s a beautiful country, worth preserving, and it would boost respect for the US as a nation that produces more than badass TV and pollution.
You will have met Prime Minister Reinfeldt by now. Don’t be taken in by the notion of his being the conservative party. Politically speaking, they’re a lil to the left of your Democrats, which is as conservative as Sweden gets to be honest. We all believe in taxes and solidarity, the political colour simply determines to what extent. It’s a model that’s stood us in good stead, so far. Good luck introducing the Obamacare health plan – sounds awesome. I hope and pray it works out for you and all the good folk of America. Though why you ever believed the far right so-called Christian conservatives would readily agree to chip in towards helping the sick and needy is beyond me. God knows what you were thinking there.
It must be soul-destroying to see so much that needs to be done in so many areas and find yourself compromising and cajoling at every end and turn. Wasting so much time eradicating roadblocks to America’s economic future. Trading this off against that. Preventing escalating unemployment and foreclosures, controlling greedy bankers, cleaning up after storms, hurricanes and oil spills. Assessing national security. Fighting the NRA. Reasserting women’s rights to decide over their own bodies and promoting same sex marriages in areas where it’s still fundamentally unthinkable. And this is just your domestic agenda.
Then there’s cleaning up in Iraq. All the whens, hows and shoulds in Afghanistan. And now there’s Syria. The prospect of starting – and then finishing – another war versus the prospect of more gassed children swaddled in shrouds. Coaxing Cameron, hassling Hollande while keeping the voters and media at home satisfied their faith in you was justified. Making them believe you still can.
You’re visibly aging, Barack, just like all the other Presidents before you, so I have to ask: Is this what you signed up for? Do you lie awake at night second-guessing and reconsidering, flattened under the weight of world peace after another long day of ultimately solo decision-making because the global buck stops with you?
Does the world expect too much of one man?
Have a great stay in Stockholm, Mr President. I truly believe you deserve it.