- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 8, 2004

The cult of personality

Donald Lambro’s article about Sen. John Kerry’s lack of likability was on the mark (“Voters don’t see Kerry as likable,” Page 1, Monday).

It was evident during the primaries that Mr. Kerry couldn’t capture a room, even among enthusiastic Democrats. Not only is he aloof, but he’s neither inspirational nor believable.

So you have a candidate who is distant and aloof whom you can’t trust to tell the truth. Do the Democrats still have the opportunity to throw him over for someone else? Of course.

Will they? You can’t be serious.

PAUL KINNEAR

Abingdon, Md.

Model not quite correct

I am a subscriber to The Washington Times and a fan of columnist Georgie Anne Geyer. In her interesting article on Oman (“Oman’s model,” Commentary, Sunday), a couple of errors crept in.

Dubai is not a country; it is progressive and independent in its action and outlook, but it is an important member emirate of the United Arab Emirates. In fact, Dubai leads all the Gulf states in every field of activity. I should know; I lived there for some 20 happy years.

Also, Tunisia is not technically a Middle Eastern country. It is thousands of miles away in North Africa. It is also a progressive state.

To the credit of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos, a lot more can be said than what Miss Geyer has mentioned in her article. While the official religion is Islam, Sultan Qaboos, and his father before him, gave freedom of worship to all those who live in the sultanate. A mosque, a church and a Hindu temple are in walking distance of one another — an enviable situation that, I hope, other states in the region can emulate.

ANANTHA RAMDAS

Alexandria

Moving America’s armies

While Sen. John Kerry’s call for a U.N. and NATO presence in Iraq may appear reasonable to some (“Kerry wants NATO role in Iraq as a ‘last chance to get it right,’” Page 1, May 1), it continues to ignore the elephant in the room, which is the long-term strategy of repositioning American military assets that are no longer welcome in Saudi Arabia or needed in Western Europe to establish a broader Middle East presence.

It would seem that the thinking behind Mr. Kerry’s proposal is that if the Americans aren’t welcome in their own name, perhaps they’ll be accepted under the aegis of NATO or the United Nations. But that ignores the fact that the American people haven’t decided that they want their military assets distributed around the globe, that they want bases closed at home so they can be reconstructed in Iraq.

I know I don’t. If American principles and business practices are not welcome in their own right, I don’t want them supported by our military might.

Given the gravity of this situation, it almost seems that the issues of universal medical care, education and support for our elderly population are, like religion, homophobia and the war on terror, merely distractions from what ought to be front and center in the campaign for the presidential election.

Mr. Kerry needs to be asked: “What are your plans for the long-term positioning of our military assets? Will we bring them home or keep them dispersed around the globe to generate antagonism and resentment?”

MONICA SMITH

Durham, N.H.

History’s judgment

In his Tuesday Op-Ed (“News from the war zone”), Tod Lindberg writes about the foundering Iraqi reconstruction: “History will not be kind to us if we fail.”

History? If the Bush presidency crumples under precisely the same internationalist political pressures that brought President George H.W. Bush up short, future historians will justifiably treat this family with a contempt so deep and complete that a century from now, decent Americans will be turning their heads and spitting at the mention of their name.

HERBERT BORKLAND

Columbia, Md.

Impact of labor costs

The three-article series America Retools (April 20-22) is informative and provides some insights concerning changes in skilled-labor demands. However, the series only briefly mentions the impact of taxation on manufacturing on the ability of industry to stay competitive.

The cost of doing business is probably the single most significant cause of labor-intensive industries moving elsewhere. The weight of taxes, both direct and indirect, at the federal, state and local levels, combined with direct labor costs such as minimum wages and various fringe benefits, drives jobs and industry overseas.

ARTHUR G. SHADFORTH

Merritt Island, Fla.

Is Rumsfeld responsible?

The Democrats’ call for removal of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld simply doesn’t hold water (“Bush stands behind Rumsfeld,” Page 1, Friday). Why do they think this is an impeachable offense? This is election-year Democratic Party rhetoric attempting to create as much chaos, yes chaos, as possible, and in a time when our troops are at war.

The question is, how far are the Democrats willing to go to take away that sense of security in order to bring down the economy and defer the war on terror to the United Nations instead of to those who can be trusted? That is how far the Democrats will go.

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Colo.

For the sake of our long-term relations with all nations, especially in the Middle East, President Bush should immediately fire Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Even if he did not know of the torture of Iraqi prisoners, Mr. Rumsfeld is ultimately responsible for the Pentagon’s unforgivable mistake in this matter.

The sooner Mr. Bush takes action and fires Mr. Rumsfeld, the better — because it will signal to reasonable people at home and abroad that our nation abhors what took place in the military jails in Iraq.

SHAWN GOLDSTEIN

Washington

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