- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

Convention musings

The most important news to come out of last week’s Democratic National Convention was made July 27 during the keynote speech by Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama.

It was the shattering of the dream of many that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the presidential nominee of her party four years from now. She has invested much to build the perception that she is the Democratic heir apparent. But, the Clinton image is not aging well, and Mrs. Clinton has extremely strong negatives of her own.

Mr. Obama’s superb performance belied his relative youth and lack of experience; his speech will rank as one of the best political speeches of our time. If he wins a Senate seat this fall, as appears likely, he will be on even terms with Mrs. Clinton. Much will happen over the next four years.

But, if Mr. Obama builds upon his spectacular debut on the national scene, the Democrats will have a new star.

As a loyal Republican, I would prefer the current crop of Democratic contenders. But, as a loyal American, I feel that our country and both parties can only benefit when people of such talent emerge on the political scene.

MICHAEL A. DRIGGS

President

International Club Network Inc.

Arlington

As a military officer who commanded nuclear weapons, I saw in Sen. John Kerry’s acceptance speech the leadership qualities of a battle-tested veteran who can win the war on terrorism and restore credibility to U.S. foreign policy.

More importantly, I saw integrity, strength and hope; not arrogance, division and group-think. It will be possible to have a president we can believe in and an America we can be proud of again.

MAJ. ROBERT TORMEY

U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Escondido, Calif.

After once again citing his wartime activities in Vietnam, Sen. John Kerry’s 46-minute acceptance speech miraculously glossed over his inexcusable antiwar activities with Jane Fonda that included repeating second-hand accounts of U.S. soldiers killing innocent civilians and cutting off ears for trophies; ignored his career as a left-wing obstructionist in the Senate; and included a few below-the-belt comments about our president, vice president and attorney general before he had the gall to challenge the Republicans to run a clean campaign.

Mr. Kerry made lots of promises. But most of those promises are exactly opposite of his recent stances on crucially important matters like military preparedness.

BILL REDSTREAKE

North Wales, Pa.

The Democrats’ promotion of the war record of their candidate, John Kerry, continues to baffle and amaze me. Yes, he served his country, but to tout his service as something that was magnificent and stellar just doesn’t correlate with the Democrats’ stand on that war.

These are some of the same people who castigated America for our involvement in Vietnam, yet they want to hold up a war hero, who openly protested the war after he served and chastised those who he said engaged in horrendous crimes against the people of that country. Where is their humility in all this?

Second, their hateful attacks on the wealthy, corporations, conservatives, people of faith, and anyone who doesn’t walk lock step with their agenda is a portrait in contradiction and insanity.

In the Democratic running mates, we are looking at two wealthy people engaging in attacks on corporate America, from which they derive most of their wealth. They attack conservatives and people of faith, yet tout themselves as the party that wants to unite America.

How can they unite America when they have alienated at least 40 percent of the country through their invective and unforgivable attacks on everything our country stands for?

Finally, the audacity of the Democrats to mention conservative values and connect their candidate to them goes beyond the pale. They and their candidate represent the groups who are intent on taking religion out of every aspect of our lives, as evidenced by their close alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union.

They represent the party that wants to shake down corporate America so they can line their pockets with the money of hard-working folks. They have a resident expert in this area in the form of John Edwards.

I suspect the hypocrisy will continue, which is bad for them and good for the president. In the end, the country will have what it needs, an administration that understands that the current direction is the one we need to continue, not the one the Democrats espouse, whatever it may be.

LT. COL. ROB WEINHOLD

U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Dale City, Va.

Assessing the terrorist threat

In “The process did it” (Commentary, July 18), Paul Craig Roberts falsely asserts that members of the Department of Defense established “an unofficial ‘Iraqi intelligence cell’ within the Pentagon to produce propaganda to justify an invasion of Iraq.”

The September 11 attacks plunged the United States into a new kind of war — a war against a network, rather than against a state — and we urgently needed a better understanding of what that implied. Defense Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith set up a small team to review existing intelligence on ties between foreign governments and terrorist networks, in order to help understand the terrorist threat and help formulate strategies for dealing with it.

Mr. Roberts’ conspiracy theories rely on sloppy reporting and unfounded assertions, rather than fact. Had he attempted to check his facts, or speak directly with Mr. Feith, he would understand the matter much better than his piece reflects.

LAWRENCE DI RITA

Principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs

Department of Defense

Arlington

Lower costs with new Medicare

Regarding your July 22 article, “Drug bill lacks safeguard on Social Security” (Nation):

It is misleading to imply that beneficiaries face higher out-of-pocket costs when Medicare has just expanded its benefits to cover drugs, preventative benefits and other services that cause far greater reductions in out-of-pocket costs than many beneficiaries have previously had to pay entirely on their own.

Until now, many beneficiaries have seen their Social Security checks eroded year after year because they get no help with high and rising drug costs. For many years, the cost of drugs and other services not covered by Medicare have been rising far faster than their cost of living adjustments. Now, with Medicare drug coverage that provides benefits that far outweigh any new payments for most beneficiaries, beneficiary income is better protected than before.

One-third of all beneficiaries with limited incomes will pay little or no premiums or deductibles for their new drug benefit. And no premium means no premium increase to “hold harmless.” For many other Medicare beneficiaries, a new benefit that lowers their drug prices, pays, on average, for about half of their drug costs, and it protects them from very high drug expenses, which means more disposable income as well.

If not for the new Medicare law, seniors without drug coverage would continue to pay the highest prices for their medicines. For the first time, all beneficiaries will have guaranteedaccessto Medicare drug coverage that, for many, will give them more protection than ever against high and rising health care costs.

TOMMY G. THOMPSON

Secretary

Department of Health and Human Services

Washington

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