The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Health Care

Obama Writes Fourth Grader a Memorable Absence Note

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By Michael A. Fletcher
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- John Corpus let his 10-year-old daughter, Kennedy, skip her last day of fourth grade at Aldo Leopold Community School to attend a packed town hall meeting where she could see the president of the United States up close.

But things turned out to be more exciting than either one of them imagined.

First, President Obama called on Corpus to ask a question about his plans for health care reform. As he posed his query, he let drop that his daughter was skipping school to see the president.

Does she need a note? Obama asked.

Playing along, Corpus said he would take Obama up on the offer. To his surprise, Obama was serious.

"What's her name," Obama asked, reaching in his suit pocket for a pen. When Corpus answered "John," Obama repeated: "Her name?"

"Kennedy," Corpus replied.

"That's a cool name," Obama said, as he started to compose the missive.

"To Kennedy's teacher," read the note, written in black ink over the president's distinctive signature. "Please excuse Kennedy's absence.... she's with me."

Posted at 2:47 PM ET on Jun 11, 2009  | Category:  Health Care
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

highwaybluesoccer -- I hear ya, but quite frankly, if we didn't at least confess to the rest of the world the mistakes we've made, we'd never find the partners we need to finally end the war on terror. It is unwinnable on our own.

Posted by: veeve | June 12, 2009 1:41 PM

Education is more than just sitting in a classroom. It involves learning, understanding and being involved in the world beyond those four walls.

Attending a town hall meeting with a president -- even if you disagree with his policies -- is a rare educational opportunity that you can't get from sitting in a classroom.

Posted by: tunghoy | June 12, 2009 1:07 PM

RealTexan, thanks for the laugh--you're the reason I canvassed so hard for Obama last year.


Another Texan

Posted by: Seaglass | June 12, 2009 1:01 PM

csjin wrote: "I think this was wrong. The President, under any powers or authority, does not have the ability to excuse a girl or boy from school. He has turned this into a media event for himself. It's great she had the chance to see the President - the excuse comes from the Parents - not the President."

Oh my God, what an abuse of power. Please start impeachment proceedings before he does something really outrageous, like giving Kennedy an ice-cream without the parent's permission. Jeez, get a grip, already. You are one of the nuts that is just itching to find something, anything, wrong with whatever Obama does. This was a harmless bit of fun, nothing more. We know that the Constitution does not define "excusing children from school to be part of a photo-op" as one of the powers of the President. However, you should read the note carefully: Obama did not deem to excuse her from school, he politely asked the teacher to excuse the absence. DUH!

Posted by: marecek | June 12, 2009 12:44 PM

Mr. Obama:

Could you please write a note to my health insurer (Blue Cross/Blue shiled)about my depression so that I can get coverage for my Lexapro prescription? Otherwise, I cannot afford it, and I would really rather not feel so bad all the time. Thanks, bobbie

Posted by: bobbiemt406 | June 12, 2009 11:55 AM

Other than just the cuteness of it, I admire his quick presence of mind and his ability to multi-task. He was managing at least two trains of thought there. He was obviously reacting viscerally there, he being a dad himself, just as well as thinking policy. He was writing a note to the teacher as he was listening to the question, and he had begun answering as he walked over to hand the note to Kennedy. There were many things happening, and he was in command over all of them. Amazing.

Posted by: FreshOfTheBoat | June 12, 2009 8:37 AM

What an AMAZING President! This is why he is loved by many around the world! He is real and he cares!

America has grown up and has a REAL president at the helm that actually wants to make America great again! Finally!


Posted by: kellogg9 | June 12, 2009 6:30 AM

Pretty charming, for a wild-eyed Muslim Nazi Socialist Communist.

Posted by: nodebris | June 12, 2009 1:26 AM

President Obama is a neat person, I have always thought; I just do not agree with about 70% of his politics.

Well, this nation needed a first black President and now that we have crossed that mark, it is time to think of whom to vote for in 2012.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | June 12, 2009 12:41 AM

Great story and moment for Kennedy.

Those who critize will critize anything that President Obama does. I mean really missing the last day of school - who cares.

Posted by: rlj1 | June 12, 2009 12:22 AM

A great moment for that 4th grader.

All of you that criticize that exchange need to take a pill.

That child will sleep with that note under her pillow tonight.

I would want that for my daughter and I hope everyone else would want that for their child also.

Posted by: aklein1404 | June 11, 2009 11:24 PM

Great stuff.......

Imagine that child going to school with that note......this is a moment that this child will never forget.

You couldn't make up this story.

Posted by: aklein1404 | June 11, 2009 11:16 PM

Now that is the Obama I like. The one I have seen in the last two months has not been very likeable. Get back to the basics Mr.Prsident and stop traveling around the world apologizing for how bad Americans are. Be our Prsident.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | June 11, 2009 10:34 PM

the child is cute.
Dad was neat for taking her.

obama is a disappointment who will eventually be asked to step down because of his lies and hiding behing a legal technicality with regard to his birth certificate.

anything obama will be worthless in coming years, IMO.

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | June 11, 2009 9:36 PM

a cute story. ... if only obama was the real thing it would have been super-cool.

HOWEVER, soon obama will be exposed as someone unqualified to even hold hte office becuase he is still stalling in the Courts claiming he has hurt no one as a result of not producing the certificate.... NO, he is not using hte certificate as proof - just hiding behind legal technicalities.

Obama is going to turn out to be an even bigger disgrace than his lies, his lack of support for American defense, or support for our troops has proven so far. I predict obama will be asked to step down eventually. Anything Obama will be just worthless paper.

Kennedy is the cutest and a child really enjoys these things. Bully for her and her dad who seized the opportunity to expose her to the event.

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | June 11, 2009 9:23 PM

Dude, people need to lighten up. 1. You're telling me that's not a story Kennedy will be telling her great-grandchildren (with written evidence)? 2. You're also telling me that she would have learned more on the LAST DAY of 4th grade than she did listening to the people discussing the future of this country with the President of the United States? Seriously, who does anything on the last day of school other than daydream about not being in school for the summer? I sure didn't.

And, yeah, I think if I were the principal of Kennedy's school and she presented a signed note from the president (any president), I would probably think that was damn cool.

Oh, and what happens if the president doesn't write a note? Kennedy still misses school and learns about our democracy. And all of you who love President Obama still love him and think he walks on water...and all of you who hate President Obama still hate him and think he's a socialist who isn't actually a citizen of this country. So why are we making such a big deal about this?

Posted by: ABitOffsides | June 11, 2009 8:44 PM

The article didn't mention that the little girl attends a Muslim madrasah. The teacher her note is for is -- you guessed it -- William Ayers.

Posted by: justin_timberwolf | June 11, 2009 8:41 PM

It is an unexcused absence. That is a real problem in our school system. Parents are supposed to send a child to school, not to a town meeting, or a family outing when the parents has a colonscopy (I kid you not). Its great that the child got to see the president, it's just a shame that she missed a day of school and should not be allowed to make up any missed work (as it is written in the State of Maryland's educational excused/unexcused absences section) And since he is not the legal guardian/parent it's an unacceptable excuse anyway. But she might get a pretty penny on ebay.

Posted by: walz | June 11, 2009 8:32 PM

I LOVE OBAMA! Not just for this, but every day he does something that makes me happy that he is our President. YES WE DID!

Posted by: DWinFC | June 11, 2009 8:24 PM

It's so refreshing to see a parent with common sense - he realizes what a great education is all about, and that's not always sitting in class watching a video with a bunch of sick kids trying to earn their perfect attendance award while the teacher grades papers. Some school experiences are fantastic, and some are worth missing for other opportunities. Kennedy's dad and the President both handled this well.

Posted by: Voter4Integrity | June 11, 2009 8:16 PM

I love this guy too.
My daughter drove home 3 1/2hours from college to volunteer for the Obama rally here in Harrisonburg.
How cool would it be if she had the forsight to ask him for a note too. She was startled enough when one of my friends pushed her forward enough to meet him. BTW It was her first year to vote. Regardless of your politics imagine an 18 year old first time voter voluteering to work hard at an event like that and then meeting the future POTUS. The picture her friend took of his nostral in hilarious. We laugh about it all the time.

Posted by: di-ann | June 11, 2009 7:34 PM

Here, here Mr. President. I haven't written many positive posts about you... but this is good. Personal, humorous, and done well. I don;t care who you vote for, this is all it takes to make our youth understand both the importance and the 'personalness' of our Presidency. For those trying to argue against this... fooey on you. Our President did good today.

Posted by: CARealist | June 11, 2009 7:29 PM

So let me get this straight...there are people arguing that our president overstepped his powers by writing an excuse for a school girl? I'm more concerned about a president overstepping his powers by claiming that he can unilaterally detain Americans forever without access to counsel or trial. Was this a media event? You bet. Did Obama capitalize on the opportunity? Yup. He's a politician. This seems a lot more reasonable than being flown to a waiting aircraft carrier to strut around in a flight suit.

Posted by: matteo2011 | June 11, 2009 7:11 PM

Hey Computer_Forensics_...:

Medical research and development is predominantly carried out by the NIH, which the GOP cut funding for during their period of (fake) prosperity. Or do you buy into the false notion that Big Pharma is mainly engaged in basic research, rather than cutting their research budgets and increasing their spending on marketing?

You might win more converts, or at least some respect, by detailing the merits of the current system. Please start by explaining the logical purpose of for-profit medical insurers.

Posted by: micron26 | June 11, 2009 7:06 PM

This is pretty funny--thanks for sharing it! I'm so glad we have a president who keeps his sense of humor while grappling with such difficult challenges. Of course, when you've campaigned for two years straight, you have some great tricks up your sleeve.

For example, when somebody in the FBI staff fainted when he visited their headquarters (to allow maximum room, the event was held outdoors, thus hot), he knew the drill and got the person water and an EMT and got the crowd to step back and not worry. For those who followed the campaign, this was a familiar scenario since it happened every week or two.

As for the permission note, I remember candidate Obama gave similar notes to two high schoolers who snuck off school property to see him during the Pennsylvania primary. One, I think, was an honors student and possibly a student body president. The high school principal, who I always felt was probably a Hillary supporter, was NOT amused!

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | June 11, 2009 7:06 PM

If Clinton did that, he would have given the girl his private phone #.

Posted by: ImpeachObama | June 11, 2009 7:02 PM

I am so happy that Obama is President.

Posted by: HughBriss | June 11, 2009 7:01 PM

One of the great off hand rebuttals of a [previous administration of all times. Not only did he keep Mr. Corpus on target, he wrote the note while listenoing to the question and answered the question about as well as could be asked considering the state of the negotiations over universal health care. He can actually walk, talk, listen, and write all at the same time.

That ought to frost the 21%ers beyond belief.

Posted by: ceflynline | June 11, 2009 6:48 PM

Using a youngster as a prop. That is as low as kissing babies.

When is King Obama going to start acting like a President and not like a Hollywood movie star?

Where does he plan on garnering the revenue for the new welfare plan called "National Healthcare?" Welfare program because where I come from, you get what you pay for. This is going to:

1. Kill medical R&D.
2. Kill the profession by managing physican's.
3. Kill people who the government feels that due to a cost / benefit analysis, we aren't covering the patient.
4. Doesn't take the cost of living into consideration. It costs more to live in NoVA than Green Bay, WI or Maxwell, NM.

Is is 2012 yet? Throw those Members of Congress out in 2010 who have got us into this mess, via the ballot box!!!

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | June 11, 2009 6:37 PM

Priceless! That has to be the funniest presidential moment in my lifetime. That's just the greatest.

Posted by: abqcleve | June 11, 2009 6:26 PM

John F. Kenndy signed my excuse in Knoxville, TN, on September 21, 1960, when my mother took me and a pal to an airport rally during school hours.
Then-Senator Kennedy signed the excuse request my mother had written just above the principal's scrawled, "uexcused absence."
Framed, It hangs in my library.

Posted by: MrAardvark | June 11, 2009 6:14 PM


Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident
PAA HAA!!! I love it when he make you guys puke, LMAO!!! That means he's doing something that you've never seen done before and you can't say anything bad about it, LOL...please keep letting us know when you're having moments like this, LOL!!! Oh, and please don't go and kill anyone over know like going out to shoot up a school or know how you guys respond...

Posted by: Beingsensible | June 11, 2009 6:14 PM

I think this was wrong. The President, under any powers or authority, does not have the ability to excuse a girl or boy from school. He has turned this into a media event for himself. It's great she had the chance to see the President - the excuse comes from the Parents - not the President.

Posted by: csjin
Stop being such an azz hole...of course Obama did this more for the child than he did for the school. What school requires an absentee excuse for a child on the last day of school. But to your point, Obama has just as much right to write the note as would that child's doctor had she had a doctor's appointment that caused her to miss school. And if you can get pass your hateration for Obama long enough even you would admit that the opportunity that this dad afforded his child was greater than any civic lesson she could ever have been a part of. It's going to be a very long 8 years for you Obama haters. You know they say that hate causes stress that can eventully kill you. Don't die over a man who wants nothing but good for his country.

Posted by: Beingsensible | June 11, 2009 6:07 PM

After so many years of various jerks and buffoons as presidents, I can understand why some people would find having a normal person such as Obama as president very disconcerting…

Posted by: Citi_Street | June 11, 2009 6:02 PM

As Vic Ferrari might say, "I love this maaaaaan!"

Posted by: bs2004 | June 11, 2009 6:01 PM

Politics, politics, politics... So many have forgotten how much fun it SHOULD be to be a kid. I am a pretty conservative guy (saying President Bush would send her to die in a foreign land was off-point and should be out of bounds for anyone with a brain), but my students really dont need to worry about the last day of school. If one of them brought a note - the following semester - from a public figure of any sort, I hope it would spark nothing but another great conversation. These are the experiences too many are missing whilst glued to XBox and PS3.

Posted by: thepearl0369 | June 11, 2009 5:53 PM

Um.. csjin... it WAS a media event for the President!

Posted by: RJD1 | June 11, 2009 5:42 PM

What a fluff piece. 5-months in and the press is still drooling over Obama...ugh.

Posted by: wolfcastle | June 11, 2009 5:38 PM

I agree, President Obama is really cool, just always on his toes! This was such a fabulously nice thing to do for Kennedy (and her Dad, who was so flustered, that he nearly got an excuse note written for himself...did you see how quickly President Obama corrected him?) This is a lightening speed mind, brilliant, AND nice, normal, empathetic...all those wonderful things that make him so special and fun to watch too. I am glad for all of us. Thank you Mr. President, that note for Kennedy made the kid in all of us smile!

Posted by: DSW358 | June 11, 2009 5:27 PM

csjin - seriously. loosen up

Posted by: amilesp | June 11, 2009 5:22 PM

Of course, she should make a copy of the note, if the school even asks for it after the story came out. I don't think another President ever wrote a note for a kid like this. That makes it quite a rarity and consequently an instant collectors item.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | June 11, 2009 5:22 PM

This comment was no doubt penned by someone who thinks Stephen Colbert is a genuine conservative commentator:

"I think this was wrong. The President, under any powers or authority, does not have the ability to excuse a girl or boy from school. He has turned this into a media event for himself. It's great she had the chance to see the President - the excuse comes from the Parents - not the President."

Posted by: youfunny100 | June 11, 2009 5:21 PM

I think this was wrong. The President, under any powers or authority, does not have the ability to excuse a girl or boy from school. He has turned this into a media event for himself. It's great she had the chance to see the President - the excuse comes from the Parents - not the President.

Posted by: csjin | June 11, 2009 5:12 PM

George W. Bush, on the other hand, would have sent this little girl to die in a war in a foreign land.

Posted by: August30 | June 11, 2009 5:12 PM

How lucky we are to have a President this cool!

Posted by: exbrown | June 11, 2009 5:06 PM

Love or hate his politics (I'm lukewarm on them myself), President Obama is doing his best to be a human being and restore some love for the office of POTUS.

Is it all politics? Sure. But the man has a huge PR job in front of him, on top of everything else.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | June 11, 2009 5:00 PM

He prints money the same way.

Posted by: zippyspeed | June 11, 2009 4:58 PM

President Obama is awesome!

Posted by: vannw1 | June 11, 2009 4:50 PM

I love my president ...

I can't ever remember being able to say that before.

Posted by: gitouttahere | June 11, 2009 4:50 PM

How cool! That's something she'll be able to tell her kids and grandkids someday!

Posted by: Alex511 | June 11, 2009 4:48 PM


Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | June 11, 2009 4:45 PM

I just love this guy!!!

Posted by: 33rdStreet | June 11, 2009 4:44 PM

It is quite cute, but then I instantly wondered; "Does the teacher get the original note, or just a photocopy?"

Posted by: GJinVA | June 11, 2009 4:25 PM

This is an excellent example of why the country loves President Obama.

Posted by: tomaaa | June 11, 2009 4:17 PM


This, and the comment on Colbert the other night, when asked if US spy satellites are that good, "No, my ears are that big." Excellent.

On another note, who's going to start with the "Kennedy Corpus" jokes?

Posted by: dcd1 | June 11, 2009 4:21 PM

I love Obama!

Posted by: rotop | June 11, 2009 4:19 PM

This is an excellent example of why the country loves President Obama.

Posted by: tomaaa | June 11, 2009 4:17 PM

How cute! I assume right after that, the President wrote a $50B check to the United Auto Workers. What a guy!

Posted by: hill_marty | June 11, 2009 4:15 PM

We just hope that some expensive medical issures don't occur; and, cause her to need to sell it before antique road show.

Posted by: linda_521 | June 11, 2009 4:08 PM

Man, those Kennedys get away with everything. ;)

Too cute, really. Fast forward to Antiques Road show in 2079, with the young miss Corpus explaining the absentee note and the Nation's first African-American president.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 11, 2009 3:22 PM

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