'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.
| April 1, 2010; 4:13 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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