Dear Mr. President,

Hello there. I live in a small town in North Carolina, well, that’s not exactly right. I live outside a small town, what may be termed rural. I live deep down a dirt road in a wooden house beside a creek that is cut into orange clay. That clay contains fool’s gold, and the clear water that runs over it sparkles in the spears of sunlight that shoot from between pine tree branches. This is where I grew up. It’s nice here.

I teach English here. Eighth grade. Most eighth graders have a lot of opinions. Some of them don’t. I asked them all to write down something that they would like to say to you. I thought that you might be interested in hearing their responses. Here they are:

I am very glad that we have a good Christian man as our president.
—Whitney Moore, who is the shortest
person in her class.

You need to get out of the office and you need to be replaced.
—Reyna Pacheco, who admires Selena.

I would like you to get another country to handle our light work. Osama should feel like he is picking a fight with a gang, not just one person.
—Will Castillo, who will be a famous
writer one day.

My favorite president is you, Mr. George Bush.
—Jonathan King, who makes odd
noises in class.

Do you think we will ever find Bin Laden? And when will things go back to normal?
—Melissa Jackson, head cheerleader.

Do you think MCI and other corporations will stop laying people off their jobs and let them come back to work?
—Jessica Walker, who likes to change
her hair color.

I wanna know why is the writing test so important to North Carolina Schools and why should it determine if we fail or pass a grade. And why is the end-of-grade test so important. I think it shouldn’t really go by a test, but by grades.
—Nikki Norman, who resembles
Alicia Keys.

Why would you be president knowing that many people don’t even like you? The war didn’t happen until you became President of the United States.
—Tarika Williams, who is serious.

What would you do to make the world a better place?
—Leticia Antonio, who has impeccable

Bush I think you are doing a excellent job, considering the Terrorist attacks, and the sniper, and even the fights between Elizabeth Dole and Erskine Bowls.
—Natalie Calcutt, who hangs out on
the back wall.

How many 4-wheelers, etc, do you have and how many food restaurants do you have in your house?
—Tara Spell, who plays three sports.

Did you ever think when you were little that one day you would be president?
—Madelyn Wooten, who also hangs
out on the back wall.

I think they should have more church camps! I love going to them.
—Karen Cribb, who has a big smile.

My name is Michelle Blue and I am wondering what are you going to do about the elderly people without social security and they are not able to work and they got to be the age of 65 to be able to stop working?
—Michelle Blue, who speaks in one
long sentence, as well.

I like cats.
—Courtney Barefoot, who also likes
James Brady.

Hey, Bush, why do our parents have to pay their taxes. I like eating Mexican food more than any other food.
—Ricardo Ramirez, who always looks

Why is it ever since you became president that we have been having so many terrorist attacks and people trying to kill other people, or blow things up?
—Brittany Robinson, who doesn’t
usually write this much.

Try to stop the war so we wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
—Jose Jose (real name)

Why do terrorists want to kill you so much?
—April Tew, who flirts.

I’m thirteen years old and in the 8th grade. I go to Midway Middle. I like to talk on the phone to boys and play soccer. My favorite subject is math, but my favorite teacher is my Language Arts teacher Miss Honeycutt!
—Leslie Strickland, who sucks up.

What’s going on?
—Jason Conyers, who did not want me
to use his name.

My birthday is Nov. 12 and I will be 15, so if you are a president you will get me something.
—James Brady, who raps.

I just want to say that you need to take your job more seriously.
—Teresa Goodman, who can do a
mean Harlem Shake.

These are my kids. They just wanted you to know that they are here.

Britt Honeycutt, 8th grade teacher

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Dear Mr. President,

As a seventy-year-old Korean War Veteran (four year stint:1951–1955), I have grave reservations concerning a commander-in chief whose military history is, at best, problematical. My DD 214 is, of course, available.

John Clarke PhD

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Dear Mr. President,

The left lace on my right moccasin broke last week, and I can’t find another lace like it anywhere.

C. Hayden Gilbert

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Dear Mr. President,

Actually I don’t really have much to say here to you, Mr. President. I just wanted to thank Todd Pruzan for his music recommendations, and suggest that he (and you) consider Jim O’Rourke’s album Insignificance as well. It came out in 2001, but lyrics like:

If I seem to you just a little bit remote
You’d feel better if you call me a misanthrope
Or whatever floats your boat
But as for me, I’d rather sink my own.

take on terrific “significance” in light of the events of the last 12 months. Don’t you think?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Jon Fine

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Dear Mr. President,

When I has nine, I wrote your mom a letter and she sent me a picture of the White House.

Holly Kratz

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Dear Mr. President,

What do you think of Mr. Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”? I’m convinced it’s the most beautiful poem of the 20th century (or should at least make the top five, says my wife). Our favorite stanza is the fifth:

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Mark Yakich

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Dear Mr. President,

I sit here in Stuttgart, GE at 0555hrs. I am about to complete a 12-hour shift helping to ensure the Stuttgart military community remains safe and vigilant. Yes, I am in the military, the Army to precise. I have been in for 18 years and I love every minute of it. Actually, that is not completely true, there have been times I have not completely enjoyed it, but that happens in every job you have in life. I am close to the end of my service though. Two more years and I can retire and I am looking forward to it. I want to teach when I get out, probably history. I will probably get into that “Troops to Teachers” program. Please relay my appreciation to Laura for placing new emphasis on that old program. I never understood why the Clinton Administration didn’t renew the funding for that program.

Also thank you for your heart-felt words in NYC after Sept 11th. The speech you gave at the joint session thereafter was (in my humble opinion) one of the greatest ever given. I rank it right up next to Roosevelt’s speech on 8 Dec 1941. I still go back and read parts of it.

I know you receive a lot of flak about Iraq and the War on Terrorism. However, I (and most everyone I know, civilian or military) support you. What I think is very ironic (is that right word) is that people the world over think that the intelligence agencies should have been able to prevent Sept 11th, “because they knew it was going to happen.” So they blame the Intel agencies. Yet now, when the agencies are saying that Iraq does present a “clear and present danger” (to quote a book title), they want to blame you and Mr. Cheney for doing it only for oil. People see only what they want to see to fit their particular worldview. They want the evidence to be based on their decision, not the other way around.

Additionally, people the world over seem to despise the U.S. and/or it’s people and gov’t policies. Yet they keep streaming to the shores (as evidenced by the recent 200 Haitians). Funny how that works. Of course, there are more places today where you can live freely and criticize the government precisely BECAUSE of our example. Yet they continue hating us.

People will continue to criticize your administration’s War On Terrorism because they apparently think one can solve problems diplomatically and such. Sometimes, that is true and I applaud those results. However, when a group hates you so much they will do anything to see to your demise they must be stopped through the most extreme measures if necessary. Terrorists fit this category.

This is simply my effort to encourage you and say, “Keep up the good work.”

Just one small anecdote if I may. A few years ago when my family and I were stationed in Miami, FL, my son was about three at the time. We went to a mall and he saw the American flag waving above. He asked me what it was and I explained to him what it was and what it meant to his daddy. I told him that I love that flag and that I would protect that flag and die for it if necessary. I told him that the flag meant liberty and freedom. After I told him all this, he replied — not once, but twice — saying, “Don’t worry daddy, no will take away our flag.”

Anyway, I hope the story touches you the way it touched me and still does to this day.

Best of luck to you in the future.

Eric B. Turner, SFC, USA

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Dear Mr. President,

Recently I moved back home with my parents, who have a big white fence around their house, and although they say they are proud of the sensitive adult I have become, I continue to have a hard time thinking of myself as a fully grown man, and tend to cringe at the notion of being called a man at all, which is why, when they ask me what I prefer, I tell them that I prefer the term extraterrestrial.

This afternoon I helped my dad kill a groundhog by setting poison bombs in all his holes. We did this for my mom because the groundhog has been eating her roses, but when she came home and found out, she started crying. After all of our efforts on her behalf, she was worried that there might be baby groundhogs! Can you believe it? To make matters worse, she said that she knew someone at work who actually has a groundhog for a pet.

Apparently the woman and her husband found him in a bucket and named him Jeb, and now he demands to have his belly rubbed and sleeps in the same bed with them. He likes coffee, chocolate, and beer, and whenever he doesn’t get them, he starts biting. The other day they threw out an empty beer can and Jeb jumped inside the trash to get it, tipping over the can and making a huge mess. After my mom told me this, I began to feel bad too. After all, our groundhog was kind of cute standing on his hind legs, which made him look like a little bear, and we always used to watch him through the window. But now the whole area is filled with poison.

Did we do a good thing, Mr. President?

Bryson Newhart

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Dear Mr. President,

My son, Sam, will be 15 days old on Halloween, and while he has never been to Texas, I’m sure that once he is capable of more organized thought processes, he will enjoy the wind-swept plains and good plain folks that that land is famous for. Sam will, no doubt, someday drive across this country, and spend a day or two in the panhandle or more southerly latitudes on I-40 or I-10, maybe driving a little too fast as the roads are straight and trees are few and distances are both magnified and reduced. Now, he stares at us, unable to focus on objects less or greater than 12 inches from his slitted eyes.

Bryce Chackerian

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Dear Mr. President,

I am a sixty-year-old African American and I don’t have a clue as to why you would want to bomb Iraq, unless it is for oil. If the reports in the news media are correct, over 1 million people in Iraq have been killed and the infrastructure has been totally destroyed. In addition, it seems that the United States and Britain are currently controlling over two thirds of the country with the no fly zone.

In my community, we have discussed your initial policy of breaking long-standing treaties with the rest of the world. The world was somewhat shocked to see you break the treaties on the environment, and the nuclear test ban treaty. I was particularly interested in the International Conference on Racism that took place in South Africa. Your staff walked out on that conference, in the same way that you have walked out on racism in this country. Well, history has a way of disarming the perpetrators of any crime. With the overwhelming number of countries in the world being against this war, America has decided to cast its lot with those in history who felt that they were above the law.

Earl Shepherd

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Dear Mr. President,

All the faux-stern scowls in the world won’t hide the fact that your finest hour was gatoring past the beer-a-mid at Deek. I hope your dreams are haunted by emaciated, illiterate, abused Iraqi children and listless, hopeless Iraqi adults — innocent civilians — whose lives have been utterly decimated by years of morally bankrupt U.S. sanctions.

Colleen Werthmann

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Dear Mr. President,

In spite of critical thoughts and feelings we may have toward your administration, there’s no denying the sense that we wish for you, the president, to succeed in your office.

So good luck with that.

Mike Chamberlain

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Dear Mr. President,

I can’t understand why you are so adamant about denying America’s disabled veterans concurrent receipt of the benefits they deserve. You spend a lot of our money helping illegal immigrants, foreign countries, forgiving huge foreign loans and on many other social problems, but you continue to refuse to treat disabled American veterans fairly.

No other group is penalized for being disabled! No other group is forced to pay for their own disabilities. And since many of these veterans were injured fighting for this country, it seems strange that you refuse to treat them not more favorably, but only equal to, others. Congress has voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation that would remedy benefits for veterans, but you threaten to veto it. Why?

These men did their duty, and served America.

It’s time for you to do your duty, and treat them fairly.

Joann Odd

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Dear Mr. President,

Hello Harvard Grad. School Alum! I was just wondering if you drove a car during your joyous years in Cambridge, Massachusetts. If so, (can I assume this car had Washington, Texas or Connecticut plates?) could you please tell me of a good parking spot for non-residents without permits? My car is from New York, and, well, people from Massachusetts really, really, really hate New York, which might be something else you could work on, like maybe have the two states sit down and talk it out over good old fashioned New York bagels and some Brooklyn Brown Ale, and if I do say so myself, I think that Mr. Derek Jeter would make an excellent moderator! Anyway, yeah, if you know of a good, hassle-free parking spot, please tell—I give you my word I will not let the cat out of the bag.

Colleen Murnane

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Dear Mr. President,

I was blindfolded as a child.

Some very brief facts/data:

1976 (at age six): I win first place in the Jim G. Steeple Quiz Show, broadcasted on metro OKC’s KOVC local channel 12.
1981: This year is available only to my therapist.
(From my diary, dated OCT.1–DEC.3 1984: “I went blind for a very brief interval of time in the ghastly lot of a vacant drive-in theatre, where for three days I had been waiting for a former boyfriend of my mother’s to show up. When he showed up, he (omitted. . . continued,
pg. 214). . . among other tragic, less desirable things.”
I become, at age 16, interested in foot reflexology and how it has been practiced for over 4,000 years in Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures. I begin to meditate.
I begin reading the poetry of Charles Simic to my dog, and he shakes my hand for it.

Something supreme is going to happen in my life.

Brandon Hobson

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Dear Mr. President,

I am a student here in your home state, Texas. I attend Austin Community College and will be transferring to Southwest Texas University next year. I met your daughter at a party, and she was a very beautiful and interesting girl, good job on raising her. Although your parenting skills are rather swell, I have many concerns with your presidency and its lack of value to this country.

I have done an extensive amount of research on politics, as I will need to know these things being a journalism major. I hope one day to work for a major newspaper such as The New York Times. I am neither democrat nor republican, I agree with some policies of both, but enough about me.

I do not know if you realize this, but every year more and more young people are learning and getting informed about the power of voting, and when you are up for election the second time around, you better not forget that our numbers [in votes] will be much higher than they were in the past.

The past year has been a hard one, and I will give you credit for doing a pretty good job during the September 11, but instead of taking one step back and looking at what we should do about fixing this problem, you took a 1/2 step back in turned it into war. Instead of saying “we can never let this happen here again”, maybe you should have though “we can never let this happen ‘anywhere’ again.” Thanks to your father and his incompetence, not only do we have a numerous amount of veterans horribly affected by The Gulf War, but now we are going to have a new batch of scarred individuals, thanks not only to your father’s idiocy, but yours as well.

This war is not supported throughout the world, and even in most of the country, yet you still decide it must happen. You have not only turned this into a religious war, but you have also spread propaganda throughout the nation, you even trivialized the 9-11 massacre by trying to use it to get your way. I have friends in Sweden and many other countries in Europe, and they all think you are an ignorant buffoon. I would not go that far, but I would say that you have single handedly created the worst cabinet of all time. John Ashcroft lost to a dead man in the Missouri senate race for God’s sake.

This supposed “Freedom Act” is yet another way to impede on our civil rights, but I could see it coming. History is bound to repeat itself, and you have helped to ensure that statement as a true one. First America witnessed the Salem Witch Trials, then the Red Scare, and now we are coming into the “Terror Fright” and inevitably everyone will be accused of being a terrorist, even if they are just being reported by vindictive neighbors (it happened in the past, it’s bound to happen again).

Here in Austin, Texas, you, Mr. President George W. Bush, are not only very much disliked, but here in Austin, Texas, Mr. President George W. Bush, here you are going to lose in your next election. We are a power to be reckoned with, and not only have you lost the vote of myself and many of America’s youth, you have also lost our faith.

A Concerned Citizen

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Dear Mr. President,

My wife and I are expecting a baby girl soon. We haven’t decided on a name yet. She’s due sometime around Thanksgiving. I’m very excited, but a little scared, too. My son likes the name Emma. When I was little, I wished my name was Steve. Sometimes it’s just fun to say the name “Steve.”


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[NOTE: The opinions expressed in these letters do not necessarily represent those of McSweeney’s, Knopf, or Gabe Hudson.]