In Congress, Was Gulf Debate Too Little, Too Late?

Reading the editorial ``A Ground War,'' Feb. 8, I disputed the assertion that Congress's debate over America's use of force in the Persian Gulf was an ``exemplary moment for participatory democracy.'' Although individual congressmen and -women gave very thoughtful presentations, it was clearly a case of too little too late. The leadership should have called Congress into session and begun the debate the day after the president committed defensive forces to the Persian Gulf. Instead, the leadership allowed itself to be manipulated by the administration into a late session so as to accomplish its objectives of making it politically difficult for opposition to be effectively mounted against the president's agenda and to legitimize the president's use of force. Congressional fears of seeming to be divided and thereby firming S addam Hussein's resolve to fight were the reason given by Congress for its decision to hold a late rather than an early session.

The leadership of Congress, which is the bedrock of our society, would do well if they were more concerned with exemplifying the ideals of democracy with timely debate rather than to worry about sending the proper signals to a deaf man.

David F. Schmidt, Arlington, Va.

Helping the `hidden poor' The editorial ``The Hidden Poor,'' Feb. 7, is so much moral posturing on behalf of the immoral reality in the inner cities: self-imposed substance abuse, self-imposed alcoholism, self-imposed violence against the innocent. Why should not folks wish to flee the cities?

No, the problem of the city is much in the minds of those moving away. They simply do not wish to be harmed by those who turn to drugs, alcoholism, violence, and other abuses.

Poverty itself has many causes, but governmental handouts have not helped, or would you say the cities are better off now than 30 years ago? Nor do moral handouts help, or your moral editorials for the past 30 years would have done some good.

Work never hurt anyone, as my Irish mother used to say, and work will never hurt anyone in the cities either - if more of them would just do it!

Russell Roemmele, Bloomfield, N.J.

For the past three years, contact with the homeless and ``project dwellers'' has been on a daily basis as I enter and leave my workplace. My solution to provide assistance has been not to dole out a dollar here or there but to donate to three organizations: one provides at least two meals a day; a second helps homeless teenagers; and a third assists drug addicts and alcoholics - all without charge to recipients. The editorial targets the problem so succinctly. Please continue in a similar vein until enough is done to bring about needed change in our social conscience.

Virginia R. Clements, River Ridge, La.

Harassment goes both ways I was disappointed in the editorial ``Ruling Out Sexual Harassment,'' Feb. 7. It was frightfully one-sided, implying consistently that sexual harassment is perpetrated only by men toward women victims. Indeed, there is much sexual harassment going the other way.

Men and all people will suffer as long as we perpetuate the myth of bad men harassing or battering helpless women. Women harass and women hit. We need to address the problem of batterers and harassers, not men.

Walter G. Vaux, Murrysville, Pa.

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