Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Bill Clinton's place in this year's campaign, nationwide climate change education, the age factor in government, and the Navy's use of sonar technology.

Clintons evoke questions about campaign protocol

Regarding Andy Zelleke's Jan. 25 Opinion piece, "Chill, Bill": Chill? I hope he's just getting warmed up!

Politicians running for public office have learned, often the hard way, the deadly risks of not responding promptly to negative personal attacks or gross misstating of facts. For recent examples, talk to Michael Dukakis and John Kerry about the perils of "playing nice."

The fact that Bill took off what could be called his "statesman emeritus" robes long enough to defend his wife, political partner, and lifelong soul mate should be commended, not reprimanded.

Seamus Boylson
Fremont, Calif.

Regarding Andy Zelleke's recent Opinion piece about President Clinton's involvement in Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign: While I thought the article was well written and insightful, it dismayed me that Mr. Zelleke has seemingly come to accept that "those seeking high office" routinely "employ the tactics of distortion and innuendo." That the greater part of our country's populace has acquiesced to this fact is an even more disconcerting assumption.

Lowering our expectations to meet the inappropriate behavior of those wishing to lead us is an exercise in social contradiction.

We are, as citizens, responsible for the ways in which we allow the political process to play out. If we demand honesty and fairness (basic values held by us all), and are willing to withhold our votes from those who fail to represent those values, we will have leaders that we can collectively respect, if not agree with politically.

Failing to hold this standard, we will be effectively asking to be misled and should not blame our politicians when they do so.

Derrick Kooistra
Dorr, Mich.

Regarding Mr. Zelleke's recent Opinion piece on Bill Clinton: Sen. Barack Obama is right in wondering whom he is running against, Hillary Clinton, her husband, or both.

I voted for Mr. Clinton in 1992 and 1996, but I am displeased with his negativity against Sen. Obama. If Clinton is going to campaign for Hillary, he should just be telling us why she should be president. What Clinton is doing to Mr. Obama sounds a lot like the "politics of personal destruction" that he felt bombarded him during his impeachment and of which he was very critical.

I agree that if Clinton keeps on attacking Obama, he not only runs the risk of harming Hillary's campaign more than helping it, but he also diminishes his stature and hurts the Democratic Party.

Paul L. Whiteley, Sr.
Louisville, Ky.

The need to slow population growth

In response to the Jan. 24 article "Nationwide 'teach-in' for climate change": Let's hope the universities will be scientifically honest. If they are, they must tell the students that the important efforts that are being promoted by "Focus the Nation" are not enough. Even if they are successful in reducing the per capita environmental footprint by as much as half, growth in population would negate that gain in about 70 years, as the population of the United States is growing by more than 1 percent annually.

The problem is growth. Unlimited growth is not possible in a world of limited resources, yet we measure our success by how much the economy is growing. We must find a way to stop growing in terms of demands made on the planet – a very big order for the next generation.

Eugene W. Peterson
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Youth is no detriment in public office

Regarding William Klein's Jan. 22 Opinion piece, "More partisanship, please," in which he writes that Bill Clinton in 1992 gave White House jobs to too many young people: I fervently hope that our new president in 2009 would not overlook the intelligence of someone like the youthful James Madison, who in 1787 (at age 36) helped forge the new US Constitution, and, in order to defend it, began collaboration on the Federalist Papers.

I hope our new president would not pass over the abilities of a person such as Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776 at age 33.

These young men were just at the beginnings of long and distinguished years of public service.

Joland Mohr
Cottonwood, Minn.

Harmful effects of sonar navigation

In response to the Jan. 25 article "Navy resumes use of sonar off California": I write to share my experience of being "pinged" by warship sonar while underwater. As a leisure scuba diver I had the misfortune to be in the water, probably a mile away, from a harbor where a warship was leaving port. The sound of the sonar was like a jackhammer.

Imagine the effect on whales or dolphins, which both have highly developed audio and sonar sensory functionality. Take into account that sound travels for miles underwater and that you cannot escape it. Subject them to that noise for hours and days on end with no escape and that explains why they do desperate things like beach themselves.

There should be honest dialogue coming from the government and Navy about what is really going on in the oceans. No one is suggesting our ships should go out blind in times of war, but let's all understand the real costs of naval exercises.

Darryl Franklin
Los Angeles, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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