President Carter has promised he would talk one day a week and go out and talk to the "people." In this way he can find out what Americans are "really thinking." Then he can return to Washington and make presidential policy based on what he has heard.
I thought this was hyperbole until the other day when a bunch of us here sitting on the Hackney porch, rocking back and forth, drinking iced tea and peering out at the Vineyard sound.
Suddenly two secret servicemen appeared and started to look under our chairs. Then they crawled under the porch. After that they went into the kitchen and searched around. Finally one said to the other, "It looks clean to me."
He got on his walky-talky and said, "Sparrow Two, this is Sparrow Seven. We found a home in Vineyard Haven with fine God-fearing Americans who have hopes and fears and dreams, though they now suffer from a malaise. Tell Eagle One it's safe for him to come."
In less than 10 minutes a cavalcade of cars came bearing down the road. A sandy-haired man with a big grin on his face stepped out of a bullet-proof Cadillac. He was accompanied by a lady and a little blonde-haired girl.
"Hi there," he said. "I'm Eagle One and this is my wife, Eagle Two, and my 1-year-old daughter, Eaglelette. I have come to visit you so I can find out what you are thinking. You see, those of us who live in Washington are isolated from the real America and the only way I can help you is to visit in your homes and find out why you have lost faith in our country. Do not hesitate to speak frankly because I know that you are all filled with pessimism and despair and fed up with promises that Congress refuses to keep. Please tell me what is on your mind."
"I'll tell you what I don't like about this country," Wallace said. "It's the humidity. It weighs down on you so you don't want to do anything. I perspire all the time."
"I know how you feel," Eagle One said. "Even in Plains, Ga., we had humidity and nobody liked it. My staff is now working on a plan to make sure that if there has to be humidity everyone gets his equal share."
Virginia Durr said, "The thing that gripes me the most is the Styrons' dog. He's over in my tomato patch all the time. How can we have hope for the future when Styron won't tie up his dog?"
Eagle One turned to his aide. "There you are. If I hadn't left Washington I would never have known about the stray dog problem."
Elizabeth Hackney, age 15, said, "I can't stand my brother. He's a spoiled brat and gets to do anything he wants to, while I have to do everything I'm told. Why should I believe in a country that permits brothers to make the quality of life for sisters so miserable?"
The sandy-haired man said to his aide, "Why hasn't anyone briefed me on this problem before?"
"Washington has lost touch," the aide said.
Brunstein said, "I'll tell you what has made me lose faith in the American dream. I like blue fishing. Every time I think I have one on the line it turns out to be seaweed or an old shoe. I haven't caught a fish in weeks, so why should I vote in the 1980 elections?"
Eagle One grinned and got up to leave. "I can't tell you how helpful you've all been in speaking out in this forthright manner. I will now return to Washington a wiser and more humble leader, aware of my mistakes and willing to try once again to make a better world for all of you. I can only be a good president if I know what the people expect of me, and you can only have your faith restored in our government by telling me what you want me to do. God bless you one and all."
He got back in his car with his wife and daughter. The TV men packed their gear and the reporters got on the press bus to rush back to the airport.
As the cavalcade disappeared into the sunset Williams hit himself on the head with his hand. "Dammit! I forgot to tell him my septic tank doesn't work."