Sunday, December 7, 2008

I am compelled to respond to the article on President Nixon (Douglas MacKinnon, “Hollywood’s Nixon,” Op-Ed, Friday).

Mr. MacKinnon repeatedly misuses quotation marks when describing Professor Robert Dallek as an “historian.” Mr. MacKinnon’s improper punctuation devalues Mr. Dallek as a career academic and renowned historian for uttering what Mr. MacKinnon calls, “such an ignorant and biased statement.” It is unacceptable that Mr. MacKinnon dismissed Mr. Dallek’s professionalism simply because of their political disagreements.

Even if I disagree with Mr. MacKinnon politically, I must respect the work he has done for former Sen. Bob Dole, former President Reagan, former President George H. W. Bush and the Pentagon. I even respect Mr. MacKinnon’s body of writing, with the exception of his quotation marks in Friday’s Op-Ed. I cannot derogate Mr. MacKinnon’s professional merits as a “writer” or a “politician” simply because he is a Republican and an outspoken proponent of the second President Bush.

I gather from the tone of Mr. MacKinnon’s comment about Mr. Dallek’s knowledge of Lyndon Johnson that he hasn’t glanced at a single page of Mr. Dallek’s volume on LBJ. Until Mr. MacKinnon has evaluated Mr. Dallek on the merits of his historical work, which I maintain is quite formidable and acclaimed, never mind best-selling, Mr. MacKinnon ought to respect Mr. Dallek as a celebrated historian and revise his unpolished punctuation.

KIRSTEN HALEY SENCIL



Class of 2010

Stanford University

Palo Alto, Calif.

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