‘Write me a letter’

‘WRITE ME A LETTER’…. In 1991, then-President Bush addressed school kids in a speech broadcast live to school classrooms nationwide. Among other things, he promoted his own administration’s education policies. But before he wrapped up his remarks, H.W. Bush told students something else:

“Let me know how you’re doing. Write me a letter — and I’m serious about this one — write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals. I think you know the address.”

Wait, kids were being encouraged to send letters to the White House? To quote Minnesota’s comically ridiculous governor, “There are going to be questions about — well, what are they are going to do with those names and is that for the purpose of a mailing list?”

And what’s this Bush about wanting America’s children to ponder the “ways you can help us achieve our goals”? Can you even imagine what the response would be if President Obama said such a thing in his message to students this week?

It’s worth noting, there was, at the time, no public backlash. The right didn’t complain about Bush “abusing his power,” and the left didn’t throw a fit. Some Democratic leaders on the Hill complained about the president using the speech as some kind of pre-election campaign ad, but they didn’t push the issue and it barely registered as a story at all. Even after 11 years of Reagan-Bush, and in the midst of a recession, the left had better things to do with their time than throw a tantrum over a presidential pitch to kids.

Politics in 2009 is very silly.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation