[pl_amazon_book_order src="http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B00DRWEKT0&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr"]Francis M. Del Vecchio, a 67-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, seems like the kind of guy country superstar Merle Haggard sang about in his hit classic “Fightin’ Side of Me.” And you can bet that he believes President Barack Obama is running down our country. If you have any doubt, read one of the nearly 300 letters the man has sent to the White House since Obama’s November re-election.
Since Nov. 18, Del Vecchio, who suffers throat cancer from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, has started his day by writing the President a letter based on the relevant news of the day. He has since compiled the letters, along with a few White House responses, in a self-published book. The title of his work, Mr. President, What Are You Doing to America?, offers a bit of insight about the contents of his regular correspondences.
It’s not that Del Vechhio wants to annoy the President or holds any personal hatred of the Nation’s leader, but that he feels the current Administration is doing unprecedented damage to the true American spirit with continuous attempts to shove entitlements and wasteful spending down American throats.
“I think he’s a good man, I really do,” Del Vecchio told Gannett. “I think he has a lot of great qualities and I agree with a lot of the things he wants to do. But he really lacks management skills in getting them done the right way, so that’s why I write the letters.”
Del Vecchio began his first letter: “Dear Mr. President, I am a disabled veteran from the Viet Nam era, and a proud supporter of the [sic] America and the values it represents. I did not vote for you and on more than one occasion have made some very unkind remarks about you. You are an easy target to criticize, especially when I am not standing in your shoes. So, I must put my political objections aside and help my fellow American to help all Americans… Please give my letters due diligence. I promise to be brief, fair, firm and honest.”
What follows is a collection of suggestions and critiques — likely no different than those many average Americans would have given face time with the President — peppered with occasional tones of sarcasm, dry humor and, sometimes, outright anger.
On Jan. 18, Del Vecchio pondered the circular logic of military-industrial foreign policy: “Why are we sending tanks and aircraft to Egypt? It doesn’t make any sense to me. We supply Israel, who are threatened by every nation around them and we supply the people that threaten them.”
But, the next month, he backed the President’s authority to use drone strikes against citizens overseas — likely a reaction to lawmaker questions of drone strike Constitutionality, which reached crescendo with Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour drone filibuster in March.
“If you think you need to drone someone or a group of people and there are Americans outside the U.S. borders, THEN DO IT,” Del Vecchio wrote. “Don’t worry about Congress, when they start doing their job right, then maybe they can tell you how to do your job for the safety and preservation of this country.”
Del Vecchio reacted to the first White House response he received concerning his 103rd letter to the President, a critique of Obama’s debt and tax positions, mockingly.
“The person that penned this letter must have been smoking the grass from the White House lawn,” Del Vecchio lamented. “Referring to the tax code as the most progressive tax code in decades is a crock of donkey dust, there is nothing progressive about it. It is old and antiquated and the only thing progressive about it is the increase. It resembles a copy of some of your speeches.”
Perhaps Del Vecchio’s project is a fool’s errand. Perhaps his letters never make it past a low-level White House mail clerk. And perhaps his policy positions don’t jive with your own.
But it’s hard not to think that the veteran and retiree has the right idea: If every American wrote a single letter — not just to the President, maybe to a Congressman or local politician — every day, the people running the country would remember we’re out here, from sea to shining sea, not only at election time, but year-round.