10 things I wish I'd said to Obama

As a part of a group of 9/11 families, I got to meet the president on Thursday. Sadly, I was a little tongue-tied

Published May 6, 2011 8:18PM (EDT)

The author with President Obama
The author with President Obama

Yesterday, as one of a group of selected 9/11 family members, I had an opportunity to meet with President Obama. Although the number of invitees swelled at the last minute and the format changed from a sit-down to a stand-up affair, I had my moments with the man. Problem is, I got kind of tongue-tied and forgot some of what I'd hoped to say:

  1. You look AMAZING.
  2. Would you consider closing Gitmo and turning it into a salsa club? I think you'd win points not only on your moral gesture but also for a project that could aid Cuba's economy, thus marking the first step towards normalizing relations. Even the conservative Miami Cuban-American population would appreciate your cultural sensitivities and their support could be key in winning Florida in 2012.
  3. Michelle has you working with weights, doesn't she?
  4. Some people are concerned that Pakistan, stung by being out of the loop when it came to the bin Laden mission, will become more dangerous, harboring terrorists and perhaps even sharing its nuclear power. But if you made a movie of the operation, you could cut Pakistan in on international distribution and related ancillary rights as well as job-creating monies generated by filming on location. To play well in certain parts of the world, the filmmakers might create an interactive version in which viewers get to choose alternate endings. This could be a boon to another growing cottage industry -- the conspiracy theorists. Win-win.
  5. You're getting grey, Mr. President -- but I guess you know that.
  6. You totally rocked at the White House Correspondents' dinner -- and considering it was the night before the big take-down, you deserve an Oscar.
  7. Say, maybe instead of the usual photo ops, we might take a minute, just you and I, to do some serious talking about domestic and world issues and my online magazine, which you'd really like. I have a lot of good ideas and I think it would be very moving to have you sitting with an ordinary 9/11 family member sharing a moment to talk about the personal and the political while you're holding a copy of my book upright and facing the camera.
  8. Can I sneak a peek at your long-form? Uh, birth certificate, I mean.
  9. Did I mention that you look AMAZING?
  10. It's an honor to meet you sir. I don't have anything to ask of you; I just want to thank you for being here today and for doing what you're doing. I’m a big fan of yours -- have been for some time -- and oh, by the way, my sister loves you, too.

(Actually, I did say that last bit, which might account for his big grin.)

By Nikki Stern

Nikki Stern regularly blogs on Open Salon. She is the author of "Because I Say So: The Dangerous Appeal of Moral Authority."

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9/11 Barack Obama