Letters to the Editor

Readers write about presidential qualities, potential first ladies, and hurricane-resistant structures.

President should not be chosen for one quality alone

Regarding John Hughes' Sept. 4 Opinion piece, "The 'experience' question: judgment trumps pedigree": Education, intelligence, eloquence, curiosity, discernment, and life and work experiences all contribute to one's preparedness for leadership. Any one accomplishment or attribute is not enough to be a world leader.

Prisoner of war, mayor of a small town in Alaska, community organizer, Ivy League graduate – these have become code phrases to evoke biases. "Prisoner of war" is a hero and whatever he says or does can be justified; "mayor of a small town" is someone like my neighbor and shares my problems; "community organizer" is an outsider who is trying to rock the boat; "Ivy League graduate" is an elitist and can't relate.

I want a president who is thoughtful, open-minded, informed, caring, articulate, and cautious about causing harm and destruction. These attributes, in my judgment, are foundational for exercising and communicating good judgment.

Barbara Hood
Louisville, Ky.

Candidates' wives affect voter choice

In regard to Chris Bell's Sept. 16 Opinion piece "It's Barack Obama and John McCain who are running – not their wives": I am not sure I agree that candidates' wives are not an important consideration in the election process. We have seen many examples of how spouses of presidents can be important voices in policies and decisions. Nancy Reagan, Rosalyn Carter, and Hillary Clinton come to mind.

I don't think the electorate regards the presentation of spouses at prominent times during the party convention or during the campaign as "fluff." It gives the electorate a sense of the individual who will probably have as close an ear to the president as any adviser or cabinet officer.

Steve Loher
Boston

Regarding Chris Bell's Sept. 16 Opinion piece about prospective first ladies: Isn't it our job, as well-informed voters, to inquire into a presidential candidate's connections, personal values, and biases? As such, their wives' characters should not be overlooked - that's leaving out a huge chunk of valuable information. In some cases, that may be a deciding factor on who gets elected, although I agree it should not be the leading one.

Many years ago, my mother was stymied by who to vote for in a presidential race. She was not necessarily leaning toward her political party's nominee, but truly wanted to make an objective choice by weighing all the issues presented to her by both parties, including first lady choices. In the end, it was the strong moral character of one candidate's wife that finally swayed her vote and sent her to the polls. My mother's vote was not based on fluff but on facts.

Lorna Scherff
North Tustin, Calif.

Hurricane damage can be minimized

Regarding the Sept. 17 article, "After the storm, to rebuild or not?": The right sort of structure can perform well in hurricane conditions. Concrete dome houses are perfect shapes for any areas that experience high wind loads. Aerodynamically shaped, the wind flows over them, not into them. The technology to build this kind of structure has been around for years.

The question is, why aren't they being built? I would suggest the answer is that the building industry is hesitant to accept a hemispherical shape as a "house." They are still unwilling to think outside the box.

Paul Sedan
Charlotte, N.C.

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, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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