COMMENTARY: Is Obama a man of the people?

Hai Tran

By Hai Tran
For Northwest Asian Weekly

Several days ago, I received an e-mail from President Barack Obama with the subject line “Do you want to have dinner with me?” A thought ran through my mind, “Wow, only in America would a president ask to have dinner with  regular folk like me.” I understood, of course, that the president did not write the letter, and that he did not have time or a desire to have dinner with me. I was sure his campaign staff wrote the letter and they just wanted to target political donors like me to ask for money. I was not that naive to believe that the president was serious enough to look for an opportunity to meet me and have dinner with a person like me. If he were serious about meeting regular people, he would have spared some time during his busy schedule on March 5 to meet with folks like me who visited his home, the White House.

On March 5, about 200 representatives of the Vietnamese American communities from all over the United States went to Washington D.C. to discuss with White House officials about human rights violations in Vietnam. The discussion, held at the White House, lasted a whole day. Mr. Obama could have spared an hour, or five minutes, from his busy schedule to meet and shake hands with the Vietnamese American representatives to show his support, to show that he is really concerned about human rights violations in Vietnam. This could have been an opportunity for him to connect and build a bridge to the Vietnamese American community. But he did not try that. He did not show up.

In the past, President Obama demonstrated that he cared about regular people. Several years ago, he took time to have a beer with a Black professor and a white police officer, after the police officer wrongly arrested the professor. Perhaps the president only wants to meet regular folks to discuss and to resolve big national issues like racism, war, and peace that affect millions of people.

But the folks who went to the White House on March 5 were trying to help 85 million people in Vietnam to work toward peace, democracy, and human rights. Unfortunately, the president did not have time for them, not even five minutes. President Obama’s treatment of the Vietnamese American people on March 5 led me to believe that he is not serious about regular people, especially the Vietnamese American people.

I was glad that I did not answer his invitation letter for dinner. I knew he just wants my contribution. He was not sincere to me or to my community. I have an appointment next week to meet with a volunteer coordinator from the local Democratic Party office to discuss my volunteer work, and how I can help President Obama win the next election. I plan to call the volunteer coordinator to cancel my meeting with him. For this election, I don’t think I will vote for a Democrat. (end)

For more information, reach Hai Tran at

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One Response to “COMMENTARY: Is Obama a man of the people?”

  1. David Chan says:

    It appears Mr. Obama is very serious about your issue by inviting 200 Vietnamese American to the White House and discuss the issues with White House Staff. Did you get invited by Mitt Romney or his staff for a full day meeting like the one in White House ?


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