The Stories Americans Tell Their President
by Eli Saslow
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by Massscorecard.org:
This isn't exactly a political book. It tells the stories of ten people who wrote letters to President Obama -- and Obama's answers to those letters. Evidently Obama sometimes answers letters that regular people write to him -- evidently regular people write to Obama about 20,000 letters a day. The regular people who got actual handwritten letters back from Obama usually framed them; one auctioned it off for $30,000; and all talked in detail about their stories and what happened after Obama wrote back.
This book starts off by describing the process by which Obama receives letters. A staff of 50 "mail analysts" each read 400 letters per day, and sort them into one of about 75 ever-changing categories. When a letter seems particularly indicative and interesting, the staff select that letter for Obama to read. Sometimes the selected letters are anti-Obama; but usually the letters are just a regular American venting about their problems, assuming they'll never get a response. Obama receives a "purple folder" each evening, of ten letters selected that day. Obama claims that the purple folder is his best connection to reach people outside "the bubble" in which the president lives. Sometimes Obama writes back -- in a handwritten reply -- those make up the content of this book. The topics include:
We focus in our excerpts on the policy issues surrounding the topics above. But really the book is about the letter writers' stories. It's a superbly clever book to write during an election campaign -- not a political biography, but it shows Obama in the best light possible; not explicitly highlighting Obama's successes, but showing them in the context of changing people's lives. And mostly, showing how Obama connects as a human being to other human beings -- a key to every re-election campaign but especially so in this campaign. Every president should have a "purple folder" like this -- and every citizen should read a couple of letters to the president on issues relevant to them.
- A young woman who lost her job in the Recession
- An African-American student in an inner city school
- A mom of a soldier serving in Afghanistan
- A woman suffering from cancer that her insurer declined to cover
- A man angry at Obama for not listening to American opinion
- A child of an illegal immigrant in Arizona
- A man on the Gulf Coast during the BP oil spill
- An elementary school student observing school inequality
- A gay activist who created an anti-bullying website
- A young Latina living in a homeless shelter
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, Massscorecard.org, May 2012
| Massscorecard.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy|
Barack Obama: Recession because Wall St. and Washington failed us.
Jan Brewer: Don't sacrifice safety to murderous thugs of drug cartels.
Barack Obama: BP spill was biggest environmental disaster ever faced.
Barack Obama: Sent 17,500 troops and 1,400 ships to deal with BP spill.
Barack Obama: ObamaCare passage means history; failure means powerless.
Barack Obama: 2009: Accused of "Obamunism" and "Chains We Can Believe In".
Barack Obama: OpEd: True cost of ObamaCare was end of bipartisanship.
Barack Obama: They called ObamaCare "Armageddon", but no asteroids fell.
Dennis Kucinich: 2009: Obama presidency at stake with ObamaCare.
Jim DeMint: 2009: ObamaCare will be Obama's Waterloo.
Barack Obama: Arizona's S.B.1070 creates misguided patchwork system.
Barack Obama: Sent unmanned aircraft drones to monitor Mexican border.
Barack Obama: Comprehensive reform can't be done by president alone.
Jan Brewer: Wrote four letters to Obama justifying S.B.1070.
Jan Brewer: Deport illegals: attrition through enforcement.
Jan Brewer: Refuse to back down when S.B.1070 ruled unconstitutional.
Rick Perry: Mexican border beset with vicious murders & tortures.
Principles & Values|
Barack Obama: Maternal grandfather fought in WWII.
Barack Obama: Effective citizenship means listening to opposing views.
Jan Brewer: Ran for local office when dissatisfied with her kids school.
War & Peace|
Barack Obama: 2009: Command is a solemn responsibility; war has no glory.
Barack Obama: Afghan war: moral imperative against determined enemy.
The above quotations are from Ten Letters
The Stories Americans Tell Their President
by Eli Saslow.
Autobiographies for 2012 GOP primary candidates:
- No Apology, by Gov. Mitt Romney, Mar 2, 2010
- Real Change, by Speaker Newt Gingrich, Dec 18, 2007
- CEO of SELF, by Herman Cain, 2001
- Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption, by Jules Witcover, 2010
- Rick Santorum: A Senator Speaks Out on Life, Freedom, and Responsibility, 2005
- Michele Bachmann: Why She Will Win, by Ron Paul Jones, 2011
- A Mormon in the White House? 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney, by Hugh Hewitt
- Mitt Romney: The Man, His Values and His Vision, by Lisa Ray Turner and Kimberly Field
- Deliver Us from Evil, by Sean Hannity
- Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, 2011
- Core of Conviction, by Rep. Michele Bachmann, 2011
- It Takes a Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, 2005
- On My Honor, by Gov. Rick Perry, 2008
- End The Fed, by Rep. Ron Paul, Sep 16, 2009
- Gold, Peace, and Prosperity: The Birth of a New Currency, by Ron Paul, 2007
- My Journey to the White House, by Herman Cain, 2011
Page last edited: Sep 20, 2012