The Guardian: “…Shailagh Murray had spent two terms in the White House helping to lead the administration’s communications strategy and it appeared to have taken its toll. With Obama just a few months away from leaving office, journalists wanted exit interviews; they wanted to be first, biggest, loudest. She was sick of the egos, the same old questions. The letters, she said, served as a respite from all that, and she offered to show some to me. She chose a navy blue binder, pulled it off the shelf, and opened it, fanning through page after page of letters, some handwritten in cursive on personal letterheads, others block printed on notebook paper and decorated with stickers; there were business letters, emails, faxes and random photographs of families, soldiers and pets. “You know, it’s this dialogue he’s been having with the country that people aren’t even aware of,” she said, referring to Obama’s eight-year habit of corresponding with the American public. “Collectively, you get this kind of American tableau.” Obama had committed to reading 10 letters a day when he first took office, becoming the first president to put such a deliberate focus on constituent correspondence. Late each afternoon, around five o’clock, a selection would be sent up from the post room to the Oval Office. The “10 LADs”, as they came to be known – for “10 letters a day” – would circulate among senior staff and the stack would be added to the back of the briefing book the president took with him to the residence each night. He answered some by hand and wrote notes on others for the writing team to answer, and on some he scribbled “save”…Starting in 2010, all physical mail was scanned and preserved. From 2011, every word of every email factored into the creation of a daily word cloud, distributed around the White House so policy makers and staff members alike could get a glimpse of the issues and ideas constituents had on their minds…”
- Note – This article includes audio transcripts of some of the letters President Obama received, as well as copies of the text of other letters.