Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sincerely, Your President

Several times a month I get a nice letter from Barack Obama.
Just today I received a nice emailed message thanking me for facilitating the reform of Wall Street.
When you and I set out on this journey three years ago, we knew that ours would be a lengthy struggle to build a new foundation for this country -- one that would require squaring off against the special interests who had spent decades stacking the deck in their favor (Barack wrote). Today, it is clear that you have shifted the odds.
I think it's so nice that a man as busy as the President takes time to keep me informed about what he's doing. And he's so considerate. Last Memorial Day he sent me a personal message thanking me for my military service.

It's nice being on the President's listserv, and it's always good to hear from him. But I've got to admit: when the President writes several times a month, it kind of takes the thrill out of the contact.

Back in the day (that would be, for me, when I was an older teen), receiving a personal message from the President was so unusual it could knock the wind out of you. (I was going to say except for the letters that begin, "Greetings," but actually, those, too.) I worry that the President may be dissipating his impact by writing everytime he's left alone with his keyboard.

Dear Phil, Michelle is on the road today and I'm thinking we should suck back a few brews and maybe maybe grab Rahm and take in an old John Wayne movie while we have a chance...

When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated in January 1961, when I was 15, I began a personal campaign of letters to try to get him to write me back.

While I was waiting for that historic response from the Oval Office, I wrote to other U.S. politicians -- anyone I could think of.

A surprising number of them (not necessarily JFK) wrote back. Their gracious written responses only encouraged me to write more letters. And more letters.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had more letters from past and future presidents, presidential candidates, governors and senators than my brothers has baseball cards. And my brothers had a lot of baseball cards.

Some of the letters I received were from impressive people -- Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon Johnson, among others. The letters were certainly novelties in the 1960s. Whether they have evolved into historical documents, I don't know.

I dug the letters and autographed pictures out of a box the other day and was shocked by how old they looked -- yellowed, wrinkled, faded and stained with cellophane tape. One thing was sure: if I left them in the box, they would eventually turn to dust. I resolved to scan them and transport them from historical papers into digital images. At least posterity -- meaning my daughters and son -- will have some record what they looked like.

I'll let them be the judge how important they are.
Butr important or not, they were all fun to receive. And each letter that appeared in the mailbox at the Morrisville Post Office infused ecstatic thrills into ordinary days.
Feel free to read them over my shoulder here.

And Barack -- keep those letters coming in. It's always good hearing from you.

But the thrill is waning.