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Just ask Peter Sagal: Advice for President Obama

If the Obama administration thought those on the left would have worked through their anger about the tax cut deal with the Republicans, they would be wrong.

So what’s a president to do? Peter Sagal, of NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” is Need to Know’s resident advice columnist. And this week, he has more advice for someone who didn’t ask for it:

Dear Need to Know:

Two years ago, I was the cool kid. Everybody loved me, I drew huge crowds and was on the cover of every magazine. Now everybody hates me and wants to hear from me only if I’m willing to apologize for everything I’ve ever done.


Feels Like It Should be the Blue House

Dear Feels:

Shut the hell up. Seriously. You know what America hates? Apologies. I know that’s what everybody says they want from you, but you have to remember, if you give in, they’ll only dislike you more. I don’t remember the last guy who had your problem apologizing for anything. And you know? People liked him more. You know what else we like? Somebody who gets hit and never seems to notice.

Hey, we actually elected that guy. So here’s what I suggest: go double or nothing.

So: You got in trouble for suggesting that maybe the government could help people get health care? This is how you respond: from now on, everybody has to get your permission to get their prescription filled. And only you can unscrew the caps on the pill bottles. Crazy? Yes. Spiteful? Of course. But Americans respect that. We want to be led by people who don’t listen to us because secretly we believe that we’re wrong. We’re not angry, we’re looking for guidance, for someone to tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about, which is what we secretly suspected the whole time.

How do I know this? Because look at us! Six years ago we elected somebody you hated, then we elected you, and now we elected guys who hate you. The American electorate oscillates so fast between completely opposite views that it vanishes to the naked eye, and can only be seen via high-speed stop-motion photography. We don’t want an apology, no matter how much we ask for one. We want to be told what we want.  And we want somebody to open our pill bottles, because I gotta tell you, this damn thing is driving me crazy.


  • Lbishopxl

    Re: Individual mandate for Obama administration health care.
    If the Virginia judge has declared that requiring citizens to purchase health insurance if they do not want it is unconstitutional, how is it that states can REQUIRE citizens to purchase CAR INSURANCE if they don’t want it?
    In the 1960′s many people from New York State would
    register their vehicles in (I believe) New Hampshire which did not require auto insurance at the time. Of course now
    citizens are all required to purchase auto insurance whether we want it or not.
    Following the same reasoning -
    both are insurance. One covers illness and accidents (health coverage.) The other covers property and accidents (auto coverage.) Where is the distinction?

  • kerry carlin

    a couple of the nine experts were on track. reduce unemployment, and divorce big business from the government. government should induce employers to hire onshore, rather then go offshore. the tax burden borne by the remaining workers is inadequate, thus we have increasing deficits.

    The Republican idea of decreasing or eliminating regulation is an idea that benefits only corporations at the expense of the public. Saving tax dollars ultimately results in job losses–everyone needs to understand this: The ultimate beneficiaries of tax dollars spent is the general public.

  • Guest 5

    For America I think Mr. Sagal has missed the point completely in his advice.
    My advice to any President is to have an update on Freedom of speech in the sense of not necessarily preventing it but legal consequences for any speech or written word that excessively crosses a line in the sand based on saying it must be
    LEGAL,HONEST, DECENT, TRUTHFUL (not partially true), andhave for media the INTEGRITY we demand which is thatof having checked against those criteria before publishing, As further protection p to limit Religious organizations activities /speech to those in its pulpit or church. They may not lobby politicians, or threaten say excommunication for a political vote on any topic. Of course they can run a website as an appeal to voters generally.But not send direct to political bodies or agencies or individual politicians, because it is unconstitutional e.g . Cardinals memo to politicians re aspects of the health care bill.
    Guest 5.

  • Kit Carson

    Great, really funny. PBS is finding its funny bone-Daily Show niche. This show is a great combination of serious news and serious humor. I LIKE!

  • E148

    It should be unconstitutional for states to require car insurance. Personally I think that your guests were off or at best very vague. Infrastructure (roads) is something of about 60 years ago. Some say high speed rail which is over 100 years old (the railroad part anyway). Here is an idea. Build many water desalinization plants any pump the water inland. We should never have to conserve water nor die of thirst. Nor should our food crops die nor our cattle. By 2050 this planet will have over 9 Billion people to feed and water.

    We could pump some of this water through hydro-electric plants to provide power for now and in the future. This could eliminate the need for coal that pollutes the air and water. No more coal mine disasters, no more oil rig leaks, and no more natural gas explosions. If we went exclusively to electricity (hydro-electric) we would clean up our air and land. Now, this would create a lot of jobs– building and running the plants, laying pipelines, building and maintaining the power plants, and more. We could develop battery power both for the power grid and for cars, etc.

    Imagine this applied to the whole world. Everyone needs water, power, and food.

  • AFriend

    You don’t have to buy a car.

  • J.

    Peter Sagal has more analysis in this piece than Cokie “Look” Roberts presents in an entire year on her NPR segments. Better yet, it’s raptor-like evisceratory analysis, too.