President Bush has admitted, in interviews, that he's not much of a newspaper reader. For the millions of Americans who love to read their paper over coffee in the morning, this may be hard to understand.
But they forget that every time the president opens the paper, he's sure to see his name in bold type in a full-page open letter, pleading with him to do this, that, or the other thing.
"Dear George W. Bush, president of the United States: Reform Social Security Immediately!" Or, "President Bush, Don't You DARE Touch Social Security." Or, "Mr. President: Save the Western Fence Lizard!"
An unbelievable assortment of zealots, philosophers, friends of various animal species, and agitated citizens and interest groups are eager to vent to the president -- and the world -- and are willing to pay plenty to do it.
For example, a group called "NCANS" recently sponsored a full-page open letter. NCANS is the "National Coalition Against Naked Shorting." That's right: naked shorting! It has something to do with selling short in the stock market, not usually while naked.
Back in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed the first open letter, addressed to the pope in Rome -- to the door of a church in Germany, there weren't any media available. But his open letter worked great, helping to ignite the Protestant Reformation.
It's a little less clear whether the open letters of today -- like actor Sean Penn's 2002 plea to President Bush in the Washington Post, asking him to re-deploy inspection teams in Iraq, are effective.
Martin Luther, Sean Penn, and the naked shorting crowd. If they were writing YOU in boldface type, would YOU open your morning paper?