Lost letters of a great leader.

Lost letters of a great leader.

Lost letters of a great leader.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
July 13 2004 5:15 PM

Lost Letters of a Great Leader

Our nation's 51st president, in his own words.

"If I do nothing else in my life I will never stop trying to bring to people the conviction of how wasteful and asinine is a human expenditure of this kind."
Letter from John Kerry to his wife while he was stationed in Vietnam.

"For years I have worked to prepare myself for a political life characterized by both practical political ability and concern for rapid social progress. It is a life I still feel compelled to try to lead. I do not think our system of government is by definition corrupt, however dangerous and inadequate it has been in recent years. (The society may be corrupt, but that is not the same thing, and if that is true we are all finished anyway.)"
Letter from Bill Clinton to Col. Eugene Holmes thanking him for saving Clinton from the draft.

These are the archived letters, e-mails, and notations of Matt Richtel, the 51st president of the United States, written in his early- and mid-20s.

—Car wash
—Gym
—Get roses for [name redacted]
—Refill Dr. Smith's Hangover Cure
—Think of the children
Excerpt from "to do" list, 1992.

Watched an amazing Bill Moyers special last night on health care. Really interesting stuff on the costs of helping our aging population, the problems of Western medicine, etc. It really got me thinking, Should I get a satellite dish? Cable is more expensive and you get fewer channels, but dish is pretty new technology. Bottom line: choice is crucial to evolution of ideas. The Founding Fathers had that in mind when they created a multiparty system and bicameral infrastructure. I'm going to stick with cable.
Diary entry, 1993.

Darling Muffin,
I love America. I love capitalism. I guess I've realized how important the core values of this great country are. That's why, when you go to the store later, I want you to pick up imported beer. If the best beer is made overseas, we should buy it, drink it, then learn to make even better stuff ourselves. That's what's great about this country; we're not afraid to be the best, or compete against it. I don't think I fully understood that before. I've come a long way in my thinking. Get pizza rolls too.
Love,
Matt
—Note to [name redacted], 1994.

Dear Diary,
I hope no one ever reads this as these are my private innermost thoughts and deeply felt sentiments. My most private, deeply felt sentiment of all is that I love America. It is totally awesome. Maybe some people would be ashamed by feelings like this, but I am not afraid to write about it here, using a permanent pen. One other thing: When I said some people "would be ashamed by feelings like this," I wasn't suggesting they would be justifiably ashamed of loving America. I was saying that some people aren't as proud as I am to love this country (probably Republicans), and I'm not ashamed to say it.
—Diary entry, 1995.

Rice Krispies made from grains grown in America's beautiful heartland
Oranges from sunny Florida (I've had it up to "here" with Castro)
Noted in margin: "Plus, nachos and other stuff made in America that I'm out of"
—Shopping list, 1996.

Sis,
I have heard about your loss, and I am so sorry. Sometimes, the world we live in is a diseased and dark place. Indeed, I deeply, deeply believe that the right leaders, enacting the right policies, can minimize the coarser instincts and more harrowing pitfalls, and prevent events like the one that happened to you. Personally, I will never stop in my quest to create a world where no one ever loses a wallet. But I do not think this gets you out of paying me back for your half of mom's birthday dinner. Which goes to my larger point: I believe in a strong, balanced fiscal policy, where we shouldn't expect to get a handout and then pass the cost on to future generations (or siblings).
—Letter to sister, 1998.

Dude,
My girlfriend left me. My sister, who is a total weirdo, isn't talking to me anymore and took back her TV. At least we have each other, and America. Indeed, it often is our hungriest who become our great innovators and leaders. That's why I know your chances of success are even greater if you send a few bucks my way. Besides, I'm out of beer.
—E-mail to Erik "Stinky" Thomas, housemate, 1999. 

Matt Richtel is a reporter for the New York Times. He writes the nationally syndicated comic strip Rudy Park under the pen name "Theron Heir."