- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2000

Readers respond to the presidential debate in Boston

Why was Vice President Al Gore sighing and smirking every time Texas Gov. George W. Bush spoke during the first presidential debate? For a self-proclaimed outstanding debater to use such unbecoming tactics is shameful. Pathetically, Mr. Gore claims he did not know his sighing was audible.

Interrupting your opponent, sighing loudly while your opponent is speaking and always needing to have the last word are the traits not only of a poor debater, but of a shallow and untrustworthy person as well.

JAY B. BARNES

Burlington, Mass.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush failed to go on the offensive in Tuesday's presidential debate.

He needed not only to question Vice President Al Gore's character, but to explain why character matters. Character matters because hard political decisions affect real people. Politicians without character put their own political fortunes above the rule of law and the interest of the people. Politicians with character put their convictions first.

When Mr. Gore claimed that he stands as his own man, Mr. Bush needed to question who he truly is. Who has Mr. Gore been for the past eight years? The politician who favors restrictions on abortion and supports the tobacco companies? The man who defended President Clinton's fund-raising from foreign companies and crassly laughed off impeachment in the White House Rose Garden?

Finally, on abortion, Mr. Bush, who has said that he would not have a "litmus test" for judicial appointees, needed to clarify that Mr. Gore will have his own litmus test for such appointments. Mr. Gore's test will ensure that they support abortion on demand, including the gruesome procedure of partial birth abortion, and that they oppose education about alternatives such as adoption. Mr. Gore is beholden to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, a radical abortion-rights group.

In these ways, Mr. Bush should have gone on the offensive and shown that he has the character, as well as the sensible policies, to lead the country.

E. STAAL

New York

As I listened to Vice President Al Gore's performance in the debate, I heard him castigate those Americans who are the achievers and may possibly be considered rich. So much for his claim of wanting to bring Americans together. Every time Gov. George W. Bush mentioned tax relief and tax cuts, Mr. Gore countered that the bulk of Mr. Bush's tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent of the taxpaying public. Excuse me, Mr. Gore, but the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay more than half of all federal taxes. It is shameful to begrudge giving back money to people who are gouged by the confiscatory tax policies of your liberal friends and colleagues.

I applaud Mr. Bush's performance because he did not allow the vice president to spin his way out of his liberal views. I pray that the so-called undecided voters will see the vast differences between the two candidates. Mr. Gore is for bigger government and government-controlled services in every area of life. Mr. Bush would return responsibility and control to the states and local governments, keeping them out of the hands of Washington-bound politicos.

JERRY WILHOITE

Huntsville, Ala.

I was very pleased with Gov. George W. Bush's presentation of the issues. He conducted himself in a presidential manner. On the other hand, Vice President Al Gore kept repeating the same line about tax cuts for the wealthy as though viewers would forget if he didn't say it one more time. He also made sure always to get in the last word, as if it were needed so viewers would remember his words.

Mr. Gore spoke about the elderly as if they are a bunch of children. He addressed the nation as if we are idiots. Mr. Gore, in both his debate performance and his campaign, talks down to the American people. He was insulting.

PHIL GONZALEZ

Houston, Texas

Nurses' strike hasn't hindered care at Washington hospital

I would like to respond to the (Sept. 29) article "Striking nurses deplore agency 'scabs'." As a cancer surgeon at Washington Hospital Center, I have performed a number of complicated surgical procedures since the staff nurses went on strike a week ago. However, the care of the cancer patient cannot be held hostage to a labor conflict. Despite the concerns raised by the striking nurses, I can attest firsthand to the high quality of care being provided by the replacement nurses.

I find it objectionable for striking nurses who are not physically in the hospital to make statements about patient care being substandard. I have only heard positive comments from my colleagues regarding the care being rendered at the hospital.

DR. MARK STEVES

Surgical oncology

Washington Hospital Center

Washington

Poachers, not hunters, contribute to extinction

I believe your Oct. 2 article "Risk of extinction is growing globally" contains an erroneous statement.

In the box titled "Disappearing species," it says one of the causes of extinction is hunting. I challenge anyone to provide evidence that lawful hunting has contributed to the extinction of a species. Poaching, it is true, has contributed to extinction. But poaching is not hunting. In fact, species subject to lawful hunting thrive. In North America, one can see this in the populations of whitetail deer, elk and moose.

I believe you also will find that African countries where elephants can be hunted lawfully have seen a resurgence of these animals. One reason for this is that lawful hunting provides an economic incentive for local populations and governments to manage animal populations and ensure they survive. When government prohibits the hunting of a species, the animals are poached without controls, and their populations suffer.

We hunters are subjected frequently to false accusations about our pursuit. In truth, hunters have done more for the conservation of wildlife than all the groups arrayed against us. Check your history.

ROBERT A. DUBLIN

Annandale

Keston Institute supports religious freedom; Russian patriarch does not

Arnold Beichman's Sept. 29 Commentary column, "Patriarch with a KGB past?" which cited the Keston Institute's research on the KGB and the patriarch of Moscow, was a useful reminder that the top leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church has yet to come to terms with its tainted past. Sadly, the patriarchate continues to give virtually unqualified support and cooperation to repressive governments such as that of Turkmenistan, where the authorities physically destroyed a Protestant church less than a year ago. On the other hand, the leading defenders of religious freedom in Moscow are mostly lay members of that same Russian Orthodox Church, such as former Duma deputy Valeri Borshchov

I also would like to make a factual correction. The Keston Institute is not an Anglican organization, as erroneously stated in the Irish Times article quoted by Mr. Beichman, but an inter-confessional Christian body that defends the religious freedom of all bona fide believers in the former Soviet Union Muslims, Jews and Buddhists as well as Christians. Among our employees are Protestants, Roman Catholics and several practicing members of the Orthodox Church, including myself.

LAWRENCE UZZELL

Director

Keston Institute

Oxford

United Kingdom

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