Saturday, October 15, 2011

15/10 The letters that make Obama long for his community-organizing days

By Saturday, October 15, 6:25 AM

It had become one of President Obama’s signature routines in the White House, a habit he mentioned in dozens of meetings and hundreds of speeches: Every night just before bed, he read 10 letters pulled from the 20,000 that Americans sent to him each day. The notes reminded him of why he wanted to be president, he liked to say. He called them his most intimate link to the people he governed.
But by the time I visited the president in the Oval Office earlier this year to talk about the letters, some of his aides had begun to wonder if Obama’s affection for the mail had outworn its usefulness. Gone were the post-inaugural thank you notes. Instead, Obama sometimes received letters addressed to “Dear Jackass,” “Dear Moron” or “Dear Socialist.” People wrote because they had lost their jobs, their homes or their relatives in the wars. Each day’s mail brought another deluge of hard luck and personal struggle, a wave of desperation capable of overwhelming the senses.
President Obama has proposed a jobs plan, but there's only one job the GOP wants.
President Obama has proposed a jobs plan, but there's only one job the GOP wants.
Most sobering of all for Obama, his self-described “direct connection” to Americans had also awoken him to a growing disconnect. People wrote because their problems demanded immediate attention, and yet the process of governing the nation was so slow that Obama sometimes felt powerless to help them.
A few times during his presidency, Obama admitted, he had written a personal check or made a phone call on the writer’s behalf, believing that it was his only way to ensure a fast result. “It’s not something I should advertise, but it has happened,” he told me. Many other times, he had forwarded letters to government agencies or Cabinet secretaries after attaching a standard, handwritten note that read: “Can you please take care of this?”
“Some of these letters you read and you say, ‘Gosh, I really want to help this person, and I may not have the tools to help them right now,’ ” the president said. “And then you start thinking about the fact that for every one person that wrote describing their story, there might be another hundred thousand going through the same thing. So there are times when I’m reading the letters and I feel pained that I can’t do more, faster, to make a difference in their lives.”
For the past year, I had been reading Obama’s mail and traveling across the country to spend time with some of the letter-writers. I had learned firsthand that people tended to write to the president when their circumstances turned dire, sealing a prayer into an envelope as a matter of last resort.
I had also read many of the president’s handwritten responses, in which he sometimes assured in black ink that “things will get better,” even if he wasn’t so sure himself. I had watched him correspond with a Michigan woman while she went through bankruptcy; with a fourth-grader while she attended one of the country’s worst schools; with a mother while she waited to hear from her son in Afghanistan; with a cleaning woman while she battled leukemia and worried about paying her medical bills.
Months after these people wrote to the president, when I mentioned their letters to Obama, he remembered the details of their lives. Their letters had shaped his speeches and informed his policies, but it was their personal stories that stuck with him. “Reading these letters can be heartbreaking,” he said. “Just heartbreaking.”
He said his nightly reading in the White House sometimes made him pine for his days as a community organizer back in the 1980s, when he was making $10,000 a year and working on the South Side of Chicago. He had just graduated from college, and he bought a used car for $2,000 and spent his days driving around to the city’s housing projects to speak with residents about their lives. He became familiar with many of the same issues that would flood his mail 25 years later: housing calamities, chronic unemployment and struggling schools.
Obama’s fellow organizers in Chicago considered him a master of hands-on, granular problem-solving. He was skinny and boyish, a good listener, if still a bit naive; and some of the older women in the housing projects made a habit of inviting him into their homes and cooking for him. He looked around their apartments, keeping a log of maintenance issues, and then delivered that list to the landlords. He helped arrange meetings with city housing officials to talk about asbestos problems. He established a tenants rights organization, founded a job-training program and led a tutoring group that prepared students for college.
When he left for Harvard Law School after three years in Chicago, Obama knew he wanted to become a politician, a job that would allow him to listen to people’s problems and enjoy the simple satisfaction of solving them.
Now he was the most powerful politician of all — but fixing problems seemed more difficult and satisfaction more elusive. He had yet to make progress on key campaign promises to reform education and immigration. Just this past week, his jobs bill failed to move forward in the Senate. When we spoke, Obama didn’t blame the gridlock and partisanship of a divided capital, but instead stressed the paradoxical limitations of his office.
Meanwhile, the letters kept coming. The president said he wondered whether a community organizer might have an easier time responding to them.
“The people were right there in front of me, and I could say, ‘Let’s go to the alderman’s office,’ or, ‘Let me be an advocate in some fashion,’ ” he told me. “And here, just because of the nature of the office and the scope of the issues, you are removed in ways that are frustrating.
“Sometimes, what you want to do is just pick up the phone and say, ‘Tell me more about what’s going on, and let me see if I can be your social worker, be your advocate, be your mortgage adviser, be your employment counselor.’ So what I have to constantly reconcile in my mind is that I have a very specific role to play in this office, and I’ve got to make a bunch of big decisions that you hope in the aggregate will end up having a positive effect over this many lives. But you can’t always be certain.”
An aide walked into the Oval Office and pointed at her watch. Our time was up. The day was almost over. Another packet of 10 letters was on its way to Obama’s residence, tucked inside a purple folder in his nightly briefing book.
Later that night, he would sit down on his couch, open the folder and find missives from rural Arkansas and downtown Detroit, notes of inspiration and devastation. He would read all 10 letters and reply to one or two. Sending a response still allowed him to provide one thing immediate and concrete.
“It lets them know I am listening,” he said.
And sometimes listening was all he could do.
Eli Saslow, a Washington Post staff writer, is the author of “Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President.” This article is adapted from that book with permission from Doubleday.
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If he had run in 10 years after having been a Senator, then a Governor he would have been a great president. He's the most brilliant naive president since Wilson. Next, he entered office as the next FDR or LBJ and for his first 2 years in office totally oblivious to to the dire state of the economy and the massive exploding national debt. Liberals just don't get that we cannot afford unlimited entitlement programs. Americans still believe they can have money for nothing and their chicks for free. As a result, they have voted for the candidate promising the big giveaways [Bush not only created more debt with war but also his Drug program] The backlash to the above are Jesus freaks, and candidates who made a D in remedial HS math IN COLLEGE and a D in economics. I'm not anti-religion but don't tell me you are better than I am or more qualified because you are a true Christian. Hence, there's nobody to vote for.
"... they can have money for nothing and their chicks for free."

You got that from Dire Straits , right?

You had me up to that point. After that you went off topic and started spouting weird stuff.
How ironic.

20,000 letters a day get sent OUT of the White House .... asking for donations so he can mount the nastiest, sleaziest, most dishonest and most divisive campaign in history.
The country longs for his community-organizing days.
"He said his nightly reading in the White House sometimes made him pine for his days as a community organizer back in the 1980s, when he was making $10,000 a year and working on the South Side of Chicago. He had just graduated from college, and he bought a used car for $2,000 and spent his days driving around to the city’s housing projects to speak with residents about their lives....."

Oh, oh. Obama just ran out of new material for this elections so he is rehashing the old one. Get ready, heeeeeere comes the ONE.
He can always return to his days as a community organizer anytime he wants. He simply has to resign his current job.
Nobama can do me a favor and move out of publlc housing in the district and go back to Chicago. You have a man who has no leadership skills, his family and their excursions all over the world are costing Americans a fortunes for ther "security." I'm ready for a leader, not someone who isn't even an American, in the presidency!
The haters never miss an opportunity to put in their poisoned point of view.
Paybacks are tough, aren't they?
Nearly zero tolerance for empathy and compassion in this collection of comments. Must be a bunch of republicans.
Empathy is just not as easy as, well, whining.
Empathy and compassion are private emotions, not public.
He can go back to community organizing. It's really o.k. Go, go go!!
I don't buy the SOB story at all. If Obama read the letters he would not be where he is today. Our borders wouldn't be wide open so he can pander for votes. He would have shut down the H1B visa abuses and he would have partnered with citizens and not Wall Street. Free trade isn't free trade when it's American jobs that will sail out of this country so Wall Street can make another dollar in profits. Jobs and the foreclosure crisis would have been tops on Obama's agenda. Instead you rarely even hear Obama discuss foreclosures and the mess he made out of the housing industry. The Obama ostrich approach (sticking your head in the sand and hoping it all goes away) is an extremely poor method of dealing with the housing crisis

This is nothing more than a puff propaganda piece. Sorry Obama it didn't work. See you at the polls November 2012.

Gather around chill'un and let me tell you a Fairy Tale.

Once upon a time there were ' letters that made President Obama long for his community-organizing days..'

heh Yeah right.
Yeah, right. Don't we just feel sorry for the man.

It's fascinating that you write this column within 24 hours of Obama pulling the plug on Obamacare. Gonna blame that on republicans, too? The whole deal was half-baked, poorly thought through, and this is what he gets. Even he realizes it was a loser. And it became in a super-democrat government.

Boo-hoo for the President ... he wasn't, isn't and never will be ready for prime time.

So now tell us ... what exactly has this man accomplished?
Not that you are interested in facts but what they pulled the plug on was CLASS, a plan for an affordable insurance policy that would help with long term care for the elderly in their homes.

He accomplished several things when he had a working congress but I am pretty sure you aren't interested or you would already know what they were.
"Several things"? Wow...several?

With a "working congress"? Which was working in opposition to the desires of the majority of the American people?
He would do better to study how the great Presidents used their power. He's a wonderful person, has great empathy, good ideas, and set goals for the nation during the campaign. But, he has shown that when it comes to using his power, he's incompetent. Example: judicial appointments. Very few have been confirmed; the Senate Republicans just sit on them. He has the power to make recess appointments, but made very few. The last summer recess, the Senate stayed 'technically' in session, so he could not do this. He should have called them all back from vacation and requested action! If they are going to be in session, they should be in Washington! But, he just doesn't know how to play their games. And, it's hurting us all.
Three are today 2.5 million fewer jobs in America than when Obama started. the unemployment rate for blacks is 16.7 percent. The US has had its credit rating dropped for the first time in history. Obama goes overseas and bows to despots. He apologizes for the US all over the world. He wanted to ask the Japanese for forgiveness for World War II.

This man of the people vacations on Martha's Vineyard. He is an unmitigated disaster for this country. He is a phony. An empty suit.
Wait till those new free trade agreements kick in. Unemployment figures will go up even more.
It may take more than one term to overcome The Twenty Year Raygun-Bush Pillage Brigade.
The unemployment rate for blacks is officially and at least 16.7 percent. What if the unemployment rate were officially 25 or 30 percent? Would that convey the situation any more clearly. That's would be without counting the huge number of black men and women filling the prisons for having been convicted of one crime or another. If our Congressional representatives can't see the extend of the misery in the black community it just defies explanation.
‘Gosh, I really want to help this person, and I may not have the tools to help them right now,’ ” the president said.

This is BS. Obama has everything he needs to solve joblessness, however he is beholden to corporations.

Job Growth in U.S. Driven Entirely by Startups, According to Kauffman Foundation Study
"When it comes to U.S. job growth, startup companies aren’t everything­. They’re the only thing."

"... defines STARTUPS as firms YOUNGER THAN ONE YEAR OLD. The study reveals that, both on average and for all but seven years between 1977 and 2005, existing firms are NET JOB DESTROYERS­, losing 1 million jobs net combined per year. By contrast, in their first year, NEW FIRMS add an average of 3 MILLION JOBS."

To create jobs without adding to the deficit, Obama needs to do just three things:

1. Repatriate the $1 Trillion already earned from US corporatio­­ns overseas at ZERO rate, provided that HALF of the 35% that would have been levied as tax, be used to fund GRANTS for STARTUP companies.

2. The Startups companies that will be funded with GRANTS (not loans) and long-term tax incentives must have patented products that are truly needed worldwide.

3. The Startup companies must VOW to keep jobs in the USA.

Here's one Startup that vows to keep ALL jobs it creates in the USA, sustained by exports of its innovative and vital product worldwide: http://www­.youtube.c­om/watch?v­=csa459eSZ­r8

If Obama does this, he will win because he will create thousands of jobs overnight. If he doesn't he will lose re-electio­n. 

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