Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Power of the Puff Piece

This would have been evidence of Bush's aloofness. But, with respect to Obama, it evidences his great compassion:

Every weekday, President Obama sits behind his big desk in the Oval Office or settles into a comfortable chair in his East Wing residence and opens a purple folder containing some very important material--10 letters from the outside world. The correspondence is chosen by his staff as a sampling of the 40,000 letters he gets every day. The letters are selected to give him an idea of the public's cares, concerns, suggestions, and critiques of how he's doing.

Sometimes, Obama will read a letter or two during the day, to fill a lull in the seemingly endless series of meetings that dominate a president's schedule. Often, he will take the folder home and peruse the letters at night. He will respond to one or two with handwritten notes. Sometimes, the letters prompt him to inquire about a specific problem or to pass along an interesting idea or poignant story to his policymakers, advisers say. He recently gave senior adviser David Axelrod and other aides copies of a letter from an Arizona woman whose husband lost his job and had to take a big pay cut from his next employer, resulting in the family having serious trouble making mortgage payments. It was a heart-wrenching story that illustrated the pain that Americans are enduring during the economic downturn. "We need to help folks like these," Obama told an aide.

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