- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

Presidential communication concerns

Having read Barry Casselman’s piece “The president’s tin ear” (Op-Ed, Friday), in which the question is posed “Where is Karl Rove?” I would like to offer comment.

In my view, it has not been made clear whether it is Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or Vice President Dick Cheney or Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. or anyone else in the president’s inner circle who has been designated a clear second in command by the president to ensure that the administration’s goals are advanced and the nation’s business prevails.

What seems clear is the confusion caused by that very lack of a defined, authorized and unmistakable second in command. Neither the press nor the public can reliably discern who is in charge of the shop while the president (as he must) goes about doing presidential things. For certain, this envisioned person is not, and should not be, the press’s scapegoat press secretary Scott McLellan.

Any experience I have had tells me there must be a strong and focused leader who promotes the general welfare, and who, at the same time, selects a strong and capable subordinate, designated and proclaimed to all the “underlings” as the woman or man in charge of running the shop to make sure the mission is accomplished. President Bush’s subordinates keep fading in and out of view, and so mistrust and confusion follow in the wake.

Who is the assigned “go to” person responsible for ensuring that the president’s goals are advanced? In my view, the absence of a clear answer to that question is destroying this presidency. It is sad, because the president is right about the issues, yet dense about the importance of communication, even within his own administration. President Bush would do well to designate a clear second in command as described and then either control or fire any subordinates who fail to communicate key information about major issues.

We know the president is in charge of the nation’s problems and issues, but who is minding the store so the boss can actually attend to business? Since we don’t know, it’s the boss’s fault.

RICHARD G. ELMER

Baltimore

Legal system losing its moral compass

In “Health-care troubles” (Letters, March 6) Ken Suggs, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, like many trial lawyers, opposes any elimination of the loopholes that permit opportunistic lawyers to sue innocent doctors. He uses many statistics that only confuse and mislead the public away from the real issue.

The central argument to the whole malpractice debate is that the legal system is rife with methods and procedures that make it easy to sue doctors even when they have not done anything wrong.

Clearly, the plaintiff’s bar has many tools at its disposal to shake down doctors. The system allows lawyers to threaten doctors with severe financial penalties if they do not accept the settlement deal offered to them. The penalty is seen by doctors as legalized extortion because it can amount to millions of dollars.

As well, there are ridiculously high contingency fees that are tied to the prospects of high settlements. The higher the potential for a big hit, the greater is the inducement for the attorney to take the case. Clearly, it is all about the money, despite attorneys’ protests that they are protecting individuals’ rights.

Finally, the use of expert witnesses who are paid thousands of dollars for their testimonies will always be suspect. The nature of medicine makes it easy to argue most medical disputes from either party’s side. Thus it is easy to see how an expert could be tempted to bend his testimony according to the size of his fees.

To really do something about the medical liability crisis, forget about the statistics. Instead, look at the principles involved and the way truth and justice has been subverted by some lawyers to make themselves rich at the expense of destroying the way medicine is practiced.

Eliminate the loopholes in the system that are making doctors feel that they are being terrorized and extorted by a legal system that has lost its moral compass.

DR. EDWARD VOLPINTESTA

Bethel, Conn.

Open discussion on campus

Donna L. Halper’s rebuttal (“On campus, a multiplicity of ‘isms’,” Letters, yesterday) of David Horowitz’s assertion (“Terrorism and tenure,” Culture, et cetera, Friday) that universities are filled with leftists and Marxists is a nonstarter. Obviously there are some colleges and universities that strongly lean toward conservatism, and there probably are a couple of conservative professors at even the most liberal educational institutions. The point is that, measuring by student population, almost all teachers are on the left end of the scale, many being completely off the left end of the scale. Mr. Horowitz at one time in the past was also at that end of the scale, so it’s ludicrous to claim that he isn’t in favor of open discussion, and it’s untrue that anything near open discussion now exists at most educational institutions.

DENIS ABLES

Vienna

A real threat from Iran

The editorial “Tehran’s nuclear duplicity” (Saturday) raises more issues.

Iran feels very strongly about its right to develop nuclear energy. The Iranian leadership is playing a dangerous game with provocative threats. Its bravado is based on the assumption that the U.S. is sinking in the Iraqi quagmire and is in no condition to plunge into an Iranian one.

Iran can disrupt oil supplies from the Gulf region in addition to shutting its own oil production. It can destabilize Lebanon through Hezbollah, and reactivate the violence on the borders with Israel. Iran can create problems in Gaza through Hamas and it can use the Shi’ite militias in Iraq who are loyal to Iran to kill Americans.

This explains Iran’s belligerence. It is capable of causing mayhem in the Middle East and the threats must be taken seriously.

NEHAD ISMAIL

Camberley, England

The nation-state and mistakes of the past

The influence of the nation-state and its interactions with “market-states” determines its emergence capabilities (“Nation-state’s demise exaggerated,” Commentary, Friday). What drives that interaction is the implementation of foreign policies, economically, politically and socially.

U.S. foreign policy during the 1990s may have led to the assumptions that the nation-state was on the decline because of what has been termed as dysfunctional multilateralism, a policy of the Clinton administration. It was driven strictly by the economic component of internationalizing our markets without regard to the interconnected social or political components (i.e. the reasons for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Khobar Towers, the embassy bombings and the USS Cole).

Once the system reached maturity (i.e. fully integrated) it became extremely sensitive to those ignored influences - the Middle East and September 11.

What Afghanistan and Iraq consist of is the attempt to influence the neglected political and social components of dysfunctional multilateralism and assist in building those “Responsive, legitimate, wealth-producing, safety-creating states.”

Therefore, the nation-state is not necessarily on the decline; it is simply trying to accommodate the mistakes of the past and influence the stability of the future.

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Colo.

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