I recently came across this selection emails that is sent by President Barack Obama on Guardian.co.uk. This was a move initiated by the President in a unique experiment in democratic transparency, who is a BlackBerry owner, and the first American president to use email while in office who agreed to copy G2 in on his otherwise highly confidential electronic communications.
Here I have made a selection of my favorites from the email correspondences. Definite laugh-out-loud moments guaranteed.
Published on Guardian on 16th Feb 2009
To: Sasha Obama (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Re: an idea for who could be your commerce secretary
Honey, it’s totally sweet of you to try to help, and I know how much you love the Jonas Brothers, but, see, they’re celebrities, not economics experts, so I don’t think I’ll be putting one of them in charge of the Commerce Department like you suggest! You probably saw that headline “Obama Team Embarrassed And Desperate As Yet Another Nominee Withdraws”, but we’re not THAT desperate! Good luck with your homework tonight – remember, seven minutes of TV as a reward if you get it all done. xx Dad
Published on Guardian on 23rd February 2009
To: Bill Clinton
Subject: Re: State of the Union Address, Tuesday
Wait, what? You just spent the last week on the TV talkshows subtly hinting that I’m being too negative about the economy, and now you say you want to stand at the podium “just for a few seconds” on Tuesday night, before everyone else arrives, so you can pretend that it’s you giving the speech? That you’ll “make it worth my while”? No, sorry.
President Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House (where the president lives)
Published on Guardian on 9th March 2009
Subject: Re: Washington Post story – “Greying Hair Shows Hardworking President Is Working Harder Than Ever To Solve Economic Crisis”
Your talcum powder idea was GENIUS. Thanks again. BHO
Published on Guardian on 16th March 2009
To: Malia Obama email@example.com
Subject: Re: OMG Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston SPLITTING UP!!!!
Hey, look, I already told you I don’t want you reading those kinds of magazines. I promise you there’s lots of fun stuff in the magazines your Mom and I pay for you to have delivered! For example, there’s usually one or two humorous articles in the New York Review of Books, and sometimes they run some pretty awesome letters in the Economist and the American Prospect too. Seriously, have a look. See you tonight after homework. xx Dad
To: Hillary Clinton firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Your White House security pass
Hillary- see note from WH security staff below. Apparently your pass was used to access the West Wing at 2.45am last Tuesday night, and CCTV footage from a few minutes later shows Bill sitting at my desk in the Oval Office, ordering people around. Only (this is the weird part) there aren’t any people there. He picks up the phone a couple of times to shout instructions at people, but the call logs show he was just dialling his own cellphone. Can you maybe have a word? We can sort out counselling/therapy, if that’s helpful.
PS. Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston SPLITTING UP!!! Didn’t see THAT one coming …
Published on Guardian on 30th March 2009
To: FCO Protocol Directorate, email@example.com
Subject: Re: G20: Meeting the Queen – handy hints for foreign leaders
Thanks for the list of tips – a little patronising, I have to say, but then I wouldn’t expect anything less from you guys. And I’ll admit I chuckled at tip number eight – “Her Majesty does not appreciate being winked at like George Bush did in 2007; the incident caused a tense standoff after she ordered all Trident missiles to be reprogrammed to target Washington in preparation for a retaliatory nuclear attack.” (I assumed that was one of your dry British jokes, but I checked with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and he tells me it really happened and we agreed to cover it up – Jesus.) Anyway, one follow-up question: what’s the correct protocol at the state banquet for when Prince Phillip adjusts his hearing-aid, leans over confidentially to his wife, and yells: “Who the Dickens is that dark-skinned chappie sitting at our dinner table, Liz? Are we in India or something?” Because you just *know* it’s going to happen.
Thanks in advance, Barack
To: Malia Obama, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: DOG??????? WTF, DAD?
You need to learn some patience, young lady. And your threat to leak “a candid account of life inside America’s First Family” to People magazine if I “don’t hurry up and get the dog quickly” is actually blackmail. You can go to jail for that.
Published on Guardian on 27th April 2009
To: Malia Obama [email@example.com]
cc: Sasha Obama [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: pets and responsibilities
Hey, I thought we had a contract. When we agreed to get Bo, we also agreed that you two would assume all the duties involved – that includes feeding the dog, walking the dog, cleaning up the dog’s business and answering the dog’s emails. The IT desk tells me there’s a 6.5 GB pile-up in his inbox. I know you’ve got a lot of homework, but it doesn’t take much – “Thanks for the message, woof woof, Bo” and on to the next one. Let’s aim for a signiﬁcant dent in the backlog by the end of the week. Dad.
Published on Guardian on 8th June 2009
To: Michelle Obama [email@example.com]
Subject: Re: Girls fighting even worse now – what on earth did you say??
Hey, how’s it going over there? Berlin’s fine. You know … German. Apologies if I’ve made things worse between M & S: I spoke to them on the secure line literally minutes after the Cairo speech, and when Malia told me Sasha had been deliberately unplugging the PlayStation while she was using it, I just slipped into this whole Great Peacemaker oratory thing without really thinking. “Does not the Holy Qu’ran tell us that we shall live peaceably as brothers and sisters; does not the Talmud exhort us to live in peace?” Etc, etc. I always forget that this stuﬀ works so much better in stadium speeches than at home. In fact, Malia said it hadn’t even occurred to her to launch Qassam rockets at her sister until I told her she was “surrendering moral authority” by doing so. So, that was an error. See you soon
To: Michelle Obama [ﬁrstlady@whitehouse.gov]
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Girls ﬁghting even worse now – what on earth did you say??
What?? Sasha’s moved a bunch of her stuﬀ into Malia’s room and is refusing to leave? Yeah, I REALLY need to remember to put Mideast politics aside when I switch into parenting mode. Sorry again.
Published on Guardian on 22nd June 2009
To: Hillary Clinton [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Re: Hey, Hillary Clinton, Someone Sent You A Free ‘Get Well Soon!’ E-Card!
Oh, it was nothing. I mean, literally: it was nothing. (That’s the great thing about free e-cards!) But I’m sorry to hear that Joe didn’t see fit to rein in his annoying conversational habit of delivering a jocular punch to the arm while making a point. It’s annoying at the best of times. I can’t imagine what it’s like when you’ve broken your elbow.
PS. Bet I could beat you in an arm-wrestle. (For the next few weeks, anyhow.)
Published on Guardian on 17th August 2009
To: Sasha Obama , Malia Obama
Subject: Re: Sasha poured Gatorade on my copy of The Wealth of Nations
Girls! If I hear any more reports of fighting between you I won’t be inviting Nick Jonas OR Joseph Stiglitz to join us at Martha’s Vineyard. And then you’ll BOTH be disappointed. You’re just going to have to learn to accept that you have very different interests. It’s what makes you each so special! Although don’t forget, Malia, that Sasha has a point: sometimes it *is* fun to go outside and play, run around, things like that. Even if you don’t want to play with her. Don’t get me wrong – I love that you love macroeconomics so much. I just want you to be happy. xxDad
Published on Guardian on 19th October 2009
To: White House Staff Subject: Fox News
All, you’ll have seen reports that the administration is “at war” with Fox News, purportedly because it’s a vicious, lie-filled sewer of bigoted propaganda and hate. Now, I’m a uniter, not a divider, so I wouldn’t personally endorse any notion of Fox News being a vicious, lie-filled sewer of bigoted propaganda and hate. But just fyi, it’ll no longer be available on WH televisions, and any attempt to select that channel on the remote will result in a mild electric shock to the user. Warmly, Barack
Published on Guardian on 26th October 2009
To: Michelle Obama Subject: Re: Re: I really think I can do this …
OK, forget what I said about dignity, and about you being a lawyer. I know you’re finding it hard to fulfil the role of first lady, and if this is something you want to pursue, go for it. I checked: the world record is 107 hula hoops, so you’ve got a way to go. B
Published on Guardian on 30th November 2009
To: Sasha Obama , Malia Obama Subject: Re: Do we HAVE to? Why??
Because I said so, and it’s Thanksgiving – a time when we put aside our differences with people and try to get along. So: your cousins will arrive at 2pm for Thanksgiving dinner, and I want you to play nice. Sasha, that means you have to share Grand Theft Auto, and Malia, I do not want you spending all day in your room running regression analyses on leading macroeconomic indicators in Excel. Remember: this is when we try to include everyone and make them feel loved. xx Dad
To: Sasha Obama , Malia Obama Subject: Re: “putting aside our differences”
You did WHAT? You invited the Cheneys? Oh, Jesus. I didn’t mean . . . I hate that guy. I mean, I guess they won’t come, because they spend Thanksgiving on their ranch in Wyoming, stamping on the heads of baby turkeys and drinking crude oil, but… jeez. Just don’t ever do that again, OK? Dad
Published on Guardian on 7th December 2009
To: Michelle Obama
Subject: Re: Any idea where the Bushes put last year’s Xmas decorations?
Found them! But they’re too tacky to use – all elves in cowboy outfits and reindeer with flashing noses. I stopped a housekeeper from setting the speaker system to play Little Drummer Boy, on repeat, all day every day until the 25th. She said it’s what the Bushes always did. I reminded her that reaffirming the ban on torture was one of the first things I did on assuming office. xxB
Published on Guardian on 21st December 2009
To: Michelle Obama Subject: Observations from Copenhagen
Wow – this summit is, like, a REALLY big story over here. On all the front pages, like it’s the most important thing happening in the world. Almost no mention of healthcare reform at all! The only story everyone is interested in on both sides of the Atlantic is Susan Boyle. xxB PS. Huh. I’m told it now IS on the front pages back home. Honestly, I leave the country for a minute and suddenly America’s interested in climate change . . .
To: Michelle Obama Subject: Observations from Copenhagen, pt 2
En route to big speech now. Many protesters. Banners: “OBAMA: THE EARTH’S FATE IS IN YOUR HANDS!!!”, etc. I thought about writing my own and holding it up against the window: “Thank you for your suggestion! But did you realise that in fact I’m the leader of a constitutional republic, such that any grand commitment I were to make would be meaningless without overwhelming support in the Senate, some members of which think global warming’s a hoax and/or that I’m a Kenyan-born communist intent on establishing a dictatorship? Meanwhile, how about I do what I can?” But I didn’t have a piece of cardboard big enough. Plus, the tinted windows would have posed a problem. xxB
To: Michelle Obama Subject: Observations from Copenhagen, pt 3
Also, what’s with all these Scandinavian visits? Giving them all this attention totally screws with our Strategically Unimportant Countries PR strategy. Apparently the Dutch PM berated Hillary in a corridor last night, and Gibbs says my administration is being accused of a “blatantly anti-Liechtenstein” foreign policy. (He says if we send them an autographed photo it ought to do the trick.) xxB
Published on Guardian on 14th February 2009
To: Sasha Obama
Subject: Re: Hillary
Sweetie, that was such a lovely thought of yours to send a little note to Hillary saying how pleased you were that Bill was out of the hospital in time for them to spend Valentine’s Day together! I’m sure it’ll be much appreciated. Now, just to explain about the Clintons, I’m not sure whether they actually will be spending Valentine’s Day together, like your mom and me. But that’s just because they’re both very busy people, so sometimes it’s hard for them to see each other as much as they’d like!
To: Sasha Obama
Subject: Re: Re: Hillary
Yeah, that’s a fair point – your mom and I are very busy people too. Look, I’ll try to explain the difference sometime. Don’t worry for now. xx
Published on Guardian on 7th March 2010
To: All White House Staff
Subject: Noise issues
All: I know that many of you, like me, have found it hard to concentrate on work because of a persistent, rumbling, human-like noise — “like a cackling”, as someone described it. It started around the time of the press leaks suggesting I might back down on my plan to give the 9/11 mastermind a civilian trial in New York, reverting to a Cheney-style military tribunal. It’s been getting louder (and “more triumphalist”, as Axelrod put it, jamming his fingers in his ears) ever since. Well, acoustic engineers have traced it to some sort of sprawling secret compound in Wyoming that, weirdly, doesn’t appear on Google Earth (!) – we’re investigating further, but meanwhile, industrial-style earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones are available from the facilities office. Patience, everyone. Barack
PS. The other sound – that distressed wail, almost like a keening – we know about. That’s my liberal base. We’re going to have to get used to that one, I’m afraid.
My personal favorite would have to be the one where Sasha sent the Valentines message to Hilliary Clinton. Haha! The way Obama tried to explain it to Sasha it was kind of hilarious!