Dear Mr. President,
From the mind's prison, I release you - consider your time as served. However, Mr. President, be mindful that your freedom was not earned, nor was it reward for good behavior. Rather, your freedom was granted of my epiphany, after three long years, that a mind consumed with holding one captive is a mind itself held in captivity. I, as the jailer, had become as imprisoned as the jailed.
I took you prisoner when you took the presidency, winning the best out of nine despite the least out of millions. I first considered your release in the days following that terrible day in September, when the eloquence of your words and the newfound poise of your presence guided our nation through its grief. Then you misled our grief to war, waged on a people who played no part in our tragedy. For such a despicable deed I condemned you, in the court of my mind, to a life sentence in my prison without hope for parole.
I held you in much the same manner as you hold your "enemy combatants", without due process or appeal. Shameful that, I now admit. I attempted to listen and read as others I knew and didn't know worked to secure your release, proclaiming your innocence on the grounds that the world was now changed, and we'd become a country besieged. But I rejected these arguments, certain the world itself was the same, and that it was you who had besieged us.
Then I watched as you gave an hour-long interview to Fox last autumn. You sounded almost proud when confessing yourself not in the habit of reading newspapers. You said you did not need outside sources of information - all that you needed to know could be learned from Condi and Andy. One so uninterested in knowledge hardly seemed capable of hatching diabolical plans to conquer the world and oppress the "homeland".
I saw your human face that day. I saw you for what you really are: basically a nice man who struggles to keep an exceptionally difficult job as simple for himself as possible. I saw a man who, by doing so, however, fools himself into believing he makes his own decisions, when quite likely his decisions have already been made for him.
I saw a man presiding in benign but arrogant oblivion over a nation of people living in much the same manner- not trying to hurt anyone, though not really caring if they do. I saw that a man I once fingered as the cause of all our problems was nothing more than the result of them.
And so I release you, and in so doing release myself. You are not the evil mastermind I believed you to be. My single-minded focus on the person of you, however justified, has done me no good. Holding you captive day after day has accomplished nothing more than to exhaust me of the ability to enjoy life to it's fullest.
So now you are free, and I will no longer worry about you, except to vote against you come November. For I've also realized that as certain as "no man is an island", no man is either a nation. The strength of our nation's spirit far surpasses that of any one man, or his administration, to suppress it. Our nation is much bigger than you, Mr. President, and has survived greater challenges than you, whether you hold your office four years or eight. By understanding this I am freed - my mind's prison is now closed.
Todd Huffman, M.D.
14 January 2004