Monday, December 15, 2008

Letter Czar

This last month, since the wonderful, historic election of Barack Obama, it's become quite common to write and publish letters to the President-elect. Letters advising him on what he should do on various matters from human rights to the environment to food production. I've read some of these letters. They are generally compassionate, well-reasoned and informative. Lots of good ideas.

But............does Mr Obama read the letters? I mean, there's a lot of them and he's pretty busy naming his cabinet and all, picking a dog, etc. Does he have time to read them all? What happens to them?

I've been imagining a "Letter Czar" who's job as part of the "transition team" it is to read all the letters and hand Mr Obama a digest of the letters. Maybe. I think it would be excellent if he did at LEAST get a digest. I am growing uneasy as I read about his choices for cabinet. Very conservative. Change? Hmmmm. I'm not optimistic. Hope? Keeping Robert Gates on as Defense Secretary? I am left shaking my head. Yes, it's a historic occasion. I'm happy about this. But how much are people willing to give up to get out of this "economic downturn"? Maybe those pesky unions? If only those unions weren't so demanding about workers rights, pensions and health insurance, we wouldn't have to do these bailouts. Yes, I hope there's a letter czar and Mr Obama is getting the message.

Otherwise, they're just like letters to Santa.

1 comment:

Julia said...

Today I was in a room of people who were working on a "memo to President-Elect Obama." We discussed who the aduience of our "memo to President-elect Obama," was... was it really the President, or the "chattering class" that reads such letters (media, bloggers, DC policy wonks and advocates, etc.) Those in the room were generaly much more experienced than me, and could remember their own earlier service in previous Administrations, in the White Hosue, OMB. So one target audience is indeed people like the senior White House staff, the Secretaries, deputy SEcretaries, directors and associate directors of agencies, etc. And though the letters may not be presented through a letter czar, the key points from them may make it into the President's briefing book. And some people argued that the President himself may read some of them, given his appetite for books and reading. And one person argued strenuously for writing it ina way it would appeal to Obama specifically. (We concluded by discussing how NO ONE would read our memo unless we could stop discussing audience, etc., and finish the darn thing).