Dear W

White House improves email to president

The White House has implemented a new system for sending email to the president.

According to Frequently Asked Questions posted on the White House web site, "White House Web Mail provides an additional means for individuals to inquire about policy issues and receive automated, timely, and substantive responses from the White House."

Let's do a comparison.

Old way

email the president

New way

Step 1

Go to whitehouse.gov and see if you can figure out how to contact the president.

white house banner

Ask the White House

Is it by clicking on "Ask the White House" near the bottom of the page? No.

Is it by clicking on President's link? Nope.

You must click on that little contact in the banner. That will take you to—

Step 2

Wade through a thicket of information on different ways to contact the White House.

In their order on the web page:

  • The White House Mailing Address
  • Invitations and Greetings (that is, sending invitations to the president)
  • Gifts (that is, sending gifts to the president)
  • The White House Phone Numbers
  • electronic communications

    Clicking on White House Web Mail will take you to—

    Step 3

    Read an introduction to the White House Web Mail system.

    The system provides a way to "communicate with the White House and receive automated, timely, and substantive responses on a wide variety of issues." It will only be on the next page that you will learn what topics are encompassed by that "wide variety." If you get there and discover that the topic of your interest is not included, you will not find a [Back] button so you can return to get the snail-mail address or fax number.

    You may also read frequently asked questions. Only if you follow this branch will you learn that

    • After you send your message, you must wait for and reply to a return email "to confirm your interest in receiving a response from the White House."
    • If you do not reply "without changing the subject line" within 72 hours, then your message will be discarded
    • After you confirm that you want a response, "your personalized Web Mail will take 1-3 days to reach your e-mail inbox"
    • Web Mail hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    This is a very interesting interpretation of "timely," don't you think? It's also interesting that an "automated" system only works M-F during office hours.

    After reading the introduction, click on continue button. That will take you to—

    Step 4

    Classify your message by selecting:

    supporting comment
    or
    differing opinion

    Then, select a subject and subtopic for your message. The subjects number about a dozen, including such things as the economy, foreign policy, legal/judicial, social, etc.

    One can imagine a simple program to process these incoming messages:

    • If message is "supporting," increment count of those in favor, add name to list for future tax breaks, and send request for campaign contribution
    • Else, forward to John Ashcroft for investigation and internment, with copy to IRS for audit

    Click on continue button. That will take you to—

    Step 5

    Identify yourself by full name, address, and email address.

    identification form

    Although we learned on the previous page that there are only about a dozen topics on which the White House is interested in receiving messsages, they provide seventy-two (72!) different honorifics to prefix your name!

    It's also worth noting — in case you missed it on the introductory page — that the form only accommodates US addresses. Communication with those pesky foreigners is obviously not wanted.

    After you click continue button the page will check that the email address you have provided is valid.

    After you have erased "biteme@myass.com" from the email address field, click on continue button. This will take you to—

    Step 6

    Type your actual message.

    write your message

    I would like to report what happens after you finish writing your message and click on continue button.

    But I do believe in the adage that sometimes "ignorance is bliss."


    I don't know about you, but I am certainly gratified to know that Our President is spending Our Tax Dollars to create such a user-friendly, citizen-friendly, open and transparent system to communicate our views.

    And if you believe the FAQ, I've got some land I'd like to sell you: "If you choose to send a Web Mail to the White House the personal information you provide will be used to respond to your message. We do not collect personal information for any other purpose."