I just read an article in the New York Times that described how, in the White House, it is one person’s job to cull ten letters from the tens of thousands that are received weekly for the President to read. The President reads them, and responds with a handwritten letter of his own to the ten that are chosen. In one, he asked the mother, who had written the letter about her son who was about to be deployed to the Middle East, to thank her son for his service. She was touched that President Obama used her son’s first name in the letter and took time to respond in writing.
According to the article, the President tears up when reading some of these letters. The letters that are chosen are designed to make the President “uncomfortable” with their messages, to show him how hard it is out there to be an American in these daunting economic times. It got me thinking, though: what would I write to the President? What message would I want to send him, if I had the inclination to write him? I feel like he’s on the right track so far, just shy of his first hundred days, and I’m willing to give him a little more time to make all of this work out. But if I were going to write him today—right now—what would I say? Just a little sampling:
1. Dear Mr. President: Could you please make the Department of Motor Vehicles a nicer place to visit and work? Could you please make it so the people that work there aren’t as miserable as human beings can be and happy to assist you with your learner’s permit, your license renewal, or even your picture? Could you please make it so that the camera at the DMV doesn’t make you look like you’ve just spent twenty-five years in the Gulag for a crime you didn’t commit?
2. Dear Mr. President: I’ve noticed that even though the price of gas has dropped considerably since last summer, our groceries, clothing, sundries, and other consumer-based items are still sky high. As a matter of fact, I spent nearly $200.00 on groceries yesterday at the store, and I’m a pretty savvy shopper. Why has gas come down, yet everything else stayed so high? Weren’t we told that the reason we were paying more for everything was due to the price of gas? What gives?
3. Dear Mr. President: Please get our troops out of Iraq. Toute de suite.
4. Dear Mr. President: Please make our waterways safer for Merchant Marines. Pirates? What the heck is up with that? I’ve been warning my kids for years that if they didn’t eat citrus, they would get scurvy, like pirates. They would always remind me that pirates didn’t exist. Suffice it to say that we’ve got a bunch of orange-eaters around here now so I guess something positive has come out of the recent headlines.
5. Dear Mr. President: Please thank your wife for planting that vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House and for making healthy eating an initiative. We’ve got too many overweight children, too many fast-food alternatives for people who don’t know the joys of fresh food, and too many children with food and weight-related illnesses in this country that could be managed by diet. Thank her for thinking of our children and making them a priority.
6. Dear Mr. President: Please make our environment a priority. Please find alternative fuel sources for our gas-guzzling society to use instead of fossil fuels. Please find someone for your staff—anyone—who can make clean air, clean water, and conservation a top priority and make Americans believe that that’s the only way to go if we’re going to live long, healthy lives.
7. And last but not least…Dear Mr. President: Can you please find out why my tax return has been delayed?
P.S. And, of course, “Why didn’t you get a Westie?”