Barack Obama and his family have packed up and flown out to Palm Springs for their first vacation as private citizens in eight years, while Donald Trump ascends to the presidency before hundreds of supporters along the Inaugural Parade route. Obama leaves behind him a legacy of thoughtful, compassionate legislation—none more charming than this letter he wrote to a fourth grader who wanted him to institute an interstate made out of waterslides.
Obama actually read ten constituent letters a day, the New York Times pointed out today, culled from the thousands that arrived each day at the White House. White House staffers were trained to respond to them, whether they ultimately reached the president or not—one woman, Lacey Higley, specifically handled “emergency letters” that suggested the letter-writer might be in danger of harming themselves or others. Others reviewed letters from kids, gifts, birthdays, and there was even a team of caseworkers assigned to deal with people seeking help from the government.
Among the submissions that reached Obama, a daily bundle known as the 10LADS, was this letter from a fourth grader named Francesca. He responded with his commensurate wit and charm:
Not to be melodramatic, but can you imagine Donald Trump responding to this letter? I prefer not to.