Letters on Steve Brodner’s caricatures, Graham Usher’s metaphors and an exchange between Jim Sleeper and Joe Klein.



Whitmore Lake, Mich.

What’s with those soulless zombie eyes in the November 26 issue? Steve Brodner’s caricatures are hideous! I couldn’t believe they were illustrating essays that were endorsing the candidates. The issue itself, however, was spectacular.


New York City

What a delight it was to see Steve Brodner’s caricatures of the candidates on your cover. Each one was dead on, and marvelously witty. Really remarkable.



New York City

Graham Usher, in “Musharraf’s Emergency” [Nov. 26], writes that Benazir Bhutto “wears the soul of Pakistan like a sequined gown.” I’m all for colorful writing, and this is definitely the memorable phrase in a rather gray piece, but what does it mean? When I see photos of Bhutto, she is wearing nonrevealing robes and a headscarf. Does she have a secret life as a Cosmo cover girl? Does the soul of Pakistan, whatever that is, long to fling off its traditional garb and go to the Oscars? Is Usher saying that Pakistanis are as mesmerized by Bhutto’s claim to represent their aspirations as a pop star’s fans are drawn to her sultry, but tawdry, beauty? Or is his point that Bhutto has taken something organic and profound–the soul of Pakistan–and transmuted it into something Western and self-dramatizing? Are sequined gowns bad or good? Whatever, Bhutto has enough to answer for without being saddled with sexualizing metaphors.



Vienna, Va.

Re “Voting for Torture” [Nov. 26]: since refusal to recognize waterboarding as torture seems acceptable in our Pax Americana, I suggest revisiting history. After the Spanish-American War, hearings before Henry Cabot Lodge’s Senate Committee on the Philippines, in 1902, caused national outrage when brutality by some US officers and soldiers was revealed. Witnesses testified on widespread use of the “water cure” developed by priests during the Inquisition. “His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning but who cannot drown.” President Theodore Roosevelt was outraged, too: “Great as the provocation has been in dealing with the foes who habitually resort to treachery, murder and torture against our men, nothing can justify…the use of torture or inhuman conduct…on the part of the American Army.”



New York City

In “Hawking War Guilt” [Nov. 12], Jim Sleeper carelessly includes me in a list of journalists who, before the Iraq War began, “struck pre-emptively at many who foresaw reruns of the Vietnam War’s trumped-up pretexts, overkill and quagmires.” He doesn’t cite specifics, and in my case he can’t, because I never did strike “pre-emptively” at anyone, except those who thought the war was a good idea. In fact, I praised Al Gore in Slate for his excellent antiwar speech in October 2002 and, as a brand-new columnist for Time in 2003, was extremely skeptical about the war. I foolishly expressed grudging support for the war once on Meet the Press on the eve of the invasion, but I never wrote anything in support of the war or against those who opposed it.



New Haven, Conn.

Joe Klein is half right. He voiced doubts about the war during the run-up and so doesn’t belong on my list of pundits who “struck pre-emptively” at dissenters. But he leapt to triumphalist nation-building when Saddam’s statue fell and has been thin-skinned ever since about his boosterism for what he now calls a disaster born of others’ arrogance and stupidity.

Wasn’t it Klein’s responsibility to call it that earlier? Google “Joe Klein” and “anti-war,” though, and see a man who cannot stop excoriating the supposed strategic follies of a “left” that actually was powerless and whose members he never names. For instance, he replies to criticism in Huffington Post in 2006, “What I actually said was ‘the hate America tendency of the [Democratic Party’s] left wing’ had made it harder for Democrats to challenge Republicans on foreign policy.” Klein’s writhing exasperation with the left (which I sometimes share) is a pivotal default position for him, his way of ducking the hazards of being a pundit who cannot bear to be wrong.

Where he does belong, as I reported, is among those who not only can’t acknowledge their responsibility but applauded Peter Beinart, who did strike pre-emptively at dissenters and continues to do so in a book Klein coronated in the New York Times.



Berkeley, Calif.

Thank you for Larry Cohler-Esses’s “The New McCarthyism” [Nov. 12]. That an editor of Jewish Week is standing up to the enemies of academic freedom is a sign that more and more Jews are sick of the intimidation of people, on and off campuses, deemed to fall outside the narrow range of acceptable discourse about Israel.

In Connecticut a Palestinian dance troupe performance is canceled. In New York the United Jewish Appeal Federation withdraws its support from a film festival about Israel’s Arab citizens. In Sacramento a Jewish publication refuses to advertise a book tour by Dr. Alice Rothchild, author of Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience. On and on it goes.

All these stories are followed on Muzzlewatch (www.muzzlewatch.org), a project of Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org). It is a must-read for those standing up for open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy.

JVP National Board


The caption for the photo above Jonathan Schell’s “A Colder War” [Dec. 10] misidentifies it as the first meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan, at the Geneva Summit in 1985, instead of as their meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986.

In the same issue, in Laila Lalami’s “Beyond the Veil,” the last name of Joan Wallach Scott was given as Wallach Scott. It should have been merely Scott.

Re Ari Berman’s “The War Comes to Iowa” [Dec. 17]: Iowans for Sensible Priorities did not endorse John Edwards; its 501(c)4, Caucus4Priorities, did. Similarly, John Nichols’s piece on Joe Biden [Nov. 26], mentions ratings put out by a 501(c)3, Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It cannot rate candidates, but other groups do, based on its information.

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It’s just one of many examples of incisive, deeply-reported journalism we publish—journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media. For nearly 160 years, The Nation has spoken truth to power and shone a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

In a critical election year as well as a time of media austerity, independent journalism needs your continued support. The best way to do this is with a recurring donation. This month, we are asking readers like you who value truth and democracy to step up and support The Nation with a monthly contribution. We call these monthly donors Sustainers, a small but mighty group of supporters who ensure our team of writers, editors, and fact-checkers have the resources they need to report on breaking news, investigative feature stories that often take weeks or months to report, and much more.

There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months, from the presidential election and Supreme Court battles to the fight for bodily autonomy. We’ll cover all these issues and more, but this is only made possible with support from sustaining donors. Donate today—any amount you can spare each month is appreciated, even just the price of a cup of coffee.

The Nation does not bow to the interests of a corporate owner or advertisers—we answer only to readers like you who make our work possible. Set up a recurring donation today and ensure we can continue to hold the powerful accountable.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy