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Retreat to the poles

While honest criticism of any president is commendable, reactionary retreats to the poles do nothing to help advance debate. Robert Scheer, in critiquing the sentimental assessments of Tina Brown, has fallen into the trap of criticizing President Clinton's dangerous liaisons and dry-cleaning receipts, whilst ignoring the true socioeconomic value of his presidency.

Between 1993 and 2001, the United States experienced, states David Greenberg, not only "record-high surpluses and record-low poverty rates," but the "longest economic expansion in history, the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s, and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged." All this, at a time when taxes were sliced for low-income families. Internationally, the United States intervened in Kosovo to halt the brutal ethnic conflict in the region, and the ante was upped on the genocidal megalomaniac Saddam Hussein through strategic military measures.

If the Clinton era and its aftermath is going to be fairly appraised, then please assess policy—the Waco massacre; "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; antiterror measures—over personality. Robert Scheer may think that Clinton nostalgia is "dangerous nonsense," but this does not stop him from falling back on the cliched slanderous jibes at Clinton's penchant for dalliances, which lead to his tortuous and unnecessary impeachment, at the first opportunity.

Liam Hoare

Horsham, United Kingdom

Aug 4 2010 - 12:22pm

My voting memoir

We have been victims of a long string of very bad presidents after FDR, haven't we? I know because I voted against all but HST. I think of my fellow Americans as politically stupid, on average, but looking back, I see an example of my own stupidity. I ardently supported Adlai Stevenson when he ran twice against Eisenhower. If I had been more discerning, I should not have voted. I realized later, during LBJ's reign, what a floor-mop Stevenson was. He just could not resign from being LBJ's UN ambassador, no matter how many bombs he dropped on Hanoi! Reminds me of Colin Powell and GWB.

It is so hard to vote for president! I liked Stevenson. I thought he would have made a good president because he had a good command of English, a sharp wit and seemed progressive. His lackey behavior for LBJ convinced me I was wrong. It takes backbone to be a good president, a rare anatomical strength in our duopoly. Another who charmed me was Eugene McCarthy, who also had a good command of our language. Who knows what sort of president he would have made!

What we get very often are charmers: JFK, RR, WJC, BHO. I was charmed by Adlai's English. I am as susceptible as my politically stupid fellow Americans. (I don't use "compatriots," because its stem presumes too much. How can people who allow their presidents to destroy the Constitution be patriots?)

Votes I am sorry I missed: FDR against Dewey, Henry Wallace against Truman and Dewey. Why? Because FDR and Henry Wallace (and Ralph Nader) were the best candidates we have had in the past sixty-six years. At least I was able to vote for Nader four times. That's something!

Alvin Hofer

Tampa, FL

Aug 4 2010 - 12:07pm