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'Dear Mr. President'

President Carter was having a rough time of it. The Iranian Revolution was on and 53 American hostages were taken on Nov. 4, 1979. Carter was being pummeled in the press and by potential opponents in the upcoming presidential election. I didn't much like Carter when I was a kid. To my young and politically uninitiated mind, it didn't seem fair that President Ford had to give up his job to the peanut farmer from Georgia. But I felt Carter was getting a bum rap. So, I wrote him a letter of support for all he was trying to do to get the hostages freed.

Writing the president is like pitching a coin in a fountain and making a wish. Maybe your wish for a response will come true, but it just feels good to have your say. It's also good and vitally important for those hunkered down in the White House to hear from folks outside the Washington bubble. By now, we all know that 10 Americans every day not only have their letters read by President Obama. The Post's Eli Saslow's superb story yesterday follows one such letter from the Monroe, Michigan, coffee table of Jennifer Cline to Obama's black binder. There were lots of tidbits, including the fact that everyone who writes the president gets an appropriately worded form letter in response. Children also get a photo of Bo the dog.

I didn't get a photo of the presidential pet or a handwritten letter from Carter. But an envelope simply marked "The White House" and postmarked Dec. 21, 1979 arrived at my New Jersey home. "President Carter very much appreciated your message supporting his handling of the Iranian crisis," said then-Director of Presidential Correspondence Daniel M. Chew in a two-paragraph typewritten note. "He regrets he cannot reply personally." That's okay. It's always good to know that the person entrusted with running the country responds to those of us who have to live with the decisions he makes.

By Jonathan Capehart  | April 1, 2010; 4:13 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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I wonder how many pet lovers will be encouraging their kids to write Obama in order to get a photo of Bo. :)

Posted by: kejia32 | April 1, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Capeheart, old buddy. You actually did it. You made a comparison between Jimmy Carter, the most woeful President in modern history, and the current occupant of the White House. Well I guess it's apt since it sure looks like this occupant will go the way of the peanut farmer.

Posted by: wjc1va | April 1, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It may be a small, symbolic gesture to select 10 letters a day to read but it is consistent with President Obama's well-known talent for listening to, and engaging with, the average American. He has been mocked as "just a community activist", but to many of us average Americans this is high praise. There is little doubt that he is very intelligent, hard working, and compassionate. Short of perfection, no president is going to be able to prevail in the current poisonous atmosphere in Washington. Obama will persevere and achieve some success and the GOP will continue to refuse to cooperate. Our nation will be less fortunate because of the political ambition of the GOP, when just a little participation could result in great strides forward in solving many of the large problems facing us. That is their choice, just as it Obama's choice to read the concerns from average citizens. That is why I respect President Obama, even when I disagree with his policies. For the GOP I have no respect, for they have not earned any.

Posted by: wilsonjmichael | April 1, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

It's always good to know that the person entrusted with running the country responds to those of us who have to live with the decisions he makes.

Seriously?? This man has not listened to ANYONE who did not want health care!

Oh, I forgot, April fools!! Good one
What if you were really that blind!

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | April 2, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Obama listens to no one, except for those who are perpetuating his agenda. He has no need for those who oppose him; and he's SUCh a megalomaniac, that he probably STOPS reading the letters that inform him he's NOT loved by EVERYone.

There are some citizens who recognize him for what he is, and are sounding off about it. This video is particulary funny, because they dude not only rails on Obama, he rails on blacks who support him too!


Posted by: obamaalmighT | April 2, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

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