Francis M. Del Vecchio - photo from Asbury Park Press
JACKSON, N.J. (ASBURY PARK PRESS) -- Francis M. Del Vecchio would like to have a little chat with President Barack Obama.
The 67-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War and later started a family business providing industrial kitchen equipment has been writing letters to the president every day - save the occasional holiday - since Nov. 18, almost two weeks after Obama defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
Del Vecchio, who said he suffers from throat cancer related to complications from Agent Orange exposure during his wartime service, has since compiled nearly 300 letters (and the White House's responses) in a self-published book titled, "Mr. President, What Are You Doing to America?"
The letters, which range from exasperation to dry humor, are by no means love letters. Profoundly disappointed in the results of the election, Del Vecchio is convinced that the country he loves is in serious peril from a national populace that is becoming increasingly dependent on government entitlements. He said the country has lost the spirit of self-reliance and rugged individualism that he feels had made America great.
Nevertheless, Del Vecchio said he bears no animus towards the 44th president of the United States.
"I think he's a good man, I really do," Del Vecchio said. "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."
A letter to President Barack Obama waits in the mailbox outside Francis M. Del Vecchio's Jackson Township, N.J., home.(Photo: Thomas P. Costello, The Asbury Park (N.J.) Press)
From his home in a gated retirement community, Del Vecchio rises before the sun each day and sits down at his computer to type out a letter based on his views relevant to the news of the day.
"Dear Mr. President," Del Vecchio typed in his first letter to Obama on Nov. 18. "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."
Over the span of 300 letters, Del Vecchio shares his opinions on a range of hot button political issues: Everyone should pay something in taxes, no matter how small; government waste and inefficiency is prevalent in both political parties, as well as in the executive and legislative branches; and Obamacare is a disaster waiting to happen.
"What nerve you have telling Congress they haven't been doing their job. They haven't been doing their job for the last four years and the only thing they can agree on is raising the debt limit so they can get their pay check every week," he wrote on Dec. 29.
On Jan. 18, "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." On Feb 5, "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. 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."
After 103 days, on March 4, Del Vecchio received his first response from the White House, dated Feb. 28, outlining the Obama administration's position on the fiscal cliff negotiations leading to a bipartisan deal after New Year's Day. The letter also went on about Obama's debt reduction plan and outlined the president's commitment to making sure that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans paid more in taxes.
Del Vecchio was not impressed.
"The person that penned this letter must have been smoking the grass from the White House lawn," he lamented in his daily letter. "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."
Another letter came from the White House a short time after, this one dated March 7 and typed over the president's signature: "Thank you for your thoughtful words. The messages I receive from Americans like you remind me of what is best about our country. ... The American people are looking for cooperation, consensus, and common sense in our government, and they have shown they want action. I intend to deliver that in the months and years ahead."
And then something odd began to happen. Form letters from the White House began to appear in Del Vecchio's mailbox, sometimes every day and sometimes identical to the one sent to Del Vecchio the day before, with merely the date changed on the response, each one beginning with the response, "Thank you for writing..."
Undeterred, Del Vecchio continued his campaign, becoming more familiar in his letters and adding his two cents about whatever the hot topic of the day the president found himself mired in.
In April, after Obama was criticized for opining that California Attorney General Kamala Harris was the "best-looking attorney general" during a speech he gave at a fundraiser they both attended, Del Vecchio offered his own take on the matter to the president.
"The attorney general in California is a pretty woman and there is nothing wrong about commenting on it," he wrote to Obama on April 4. "I am sure you will get some political flack over it, but worse, I don't think (first lady) Michelle will be too happy and that is worse than any political flack. ... Just not a good move making a woman angry."
Del Vecchio said his wife and children give him a hard time about his letters, and warn him half-seriously that he is going to find the Secret Service on his door step.
The Asbury Park Press requested a comment from White House mail officials earlier this week, but the office said they did not have enough time to respond.
Asbury Park Press/USA TODAY