Ten Letters, The Stories American Tell Their President, a book by Eli Saslow
As usual, I heard the author on NPR, probably the Diane Rehm show. Eli was very interesting, as I recall a couple of the letter writers were also heard (by way of taped interviews) on the show.
Eli has traced the history of letter writing to American Presidents all the way back to George Washington, believe it or not, there are so many interesting little known facts about letters to our Presidents. Spikes in the number of letters to our Presidents usually occur after some major historic event, ie. after President Roosevelt started doing his fire side chats, he mentioned he would enjoy hearing from "you", and the White House was swamped with letters, after JFK's assasination, after 9/11. Each event the number of letters just keeps sky-rocketing, there is a special building in Washington DC, locale is not public knowledge, and since the days of all the anthrax scares, the process of security has changed greatly.
Currently, President Obama receives approximately 20,000 letters and emails DAILY. Each piece of mail goes through the security system, then sorted according to subject matter, then staff members read 500 letters every day - YES every day - takes about 12 hours. There are several staff members who pull certain letters that might be of interest to the President, and the last staff member pulls 10 Letters every evening, these 10 Letters are then placed in a purple folder and delivered directly to President Obama, and he reads every letter before retiring for the night.......
One might believe that the letters chosen would only be from people who approve of the President, however, one would be wrong with that assumption. The letters are chosen for what they have to say to the President, regardless of their political beliefs. That is something that I found very interesting and made me regard President Obama even higher.
President Obama sometimes responds to the letter writer, sometimes not, however, once again, EACH and EVERY one of the TEN Letters is read. When the President does respond to a letter, it is not sent in any ordinary type of envelop, no, it is sent in a very special type of package. And, YES, President Obama, when he does respond, writes EACH and EVERY letter by hand.
I think that Chapter 5, "Stop and listen to the American People" was by far my favorite, a teacher from Plano, Texas, definitly NOT a supporter of President Obama, when a package was delivered to him in response to his letter, he thought it was a JOKE! He keeps his letter from the President in his classroom, and students are permitted to take the letter off the board and handle it! He still has it hanging there!
Well, I hope that I have whetted your appetite to the point that you will consider reading this very interesting book.