More on White House, Family Values

I can't help it. I just have to respond to Godfrey Sperling's column "A White House Indiscretion Is a Betrayal of Family Values" (March 17), on President Clinton's job rating and continued popularity. The news media's focus on the paradox is purposely missing the point in order to incite viewership.

I dare say there's not a woman 20 years of age anywhere who has not experienced unwanted sexual advances. Most men are aware of this as they commit these acts - either through ignorance, misread signals, or criminal predatory behavior. We have it now well reported that previous US presidents lived with mistresses or frequented them, carried on with call girls, and entertained girlfriends, all while in office. Some of these accomplished great things as presidents.

However, I dislike Kenneth Starr for subjecting us and the president to what we may dismiss as possible breeches of etiquette. We would not even know most of these women if they hadn't been stripped of their anonymity and dragged into court by Mr. Starr.

Most Americans are sophisticated enough to judge another person's character in relation to how it affects them. Do the alleged dalliances endanger my family, my children, affect my pocketbook? Does it interfere with my job, my getting to that job, my health, my ability to accomplish my life's goals? Do these alleged failings drag this country into war? Interfere with interstate commerce, or add to the national debt? It looks trivial to us.

Janet B. Palmer

Downingtown, Pa.

Thanks to Mr. Sperling for the position on morality he so ably articulated in his essay.

My wife of 41 years and I deplore the example set by our current president, and wonder if he really does exemplify the thoughts of most Americans with regard to family values. We have always assumed that family values include marital fidelity and integrity.

If economic well-being now truly means more to us than character, we are in deep trouble.

We hope Mr. Sperling will not be discouraged. We're sure his supporters are plentiful if not vocal, and we need his clear voice now more than ever.

Bob Hahn

Anchorage, Alaska

A little science helps sport utes

As pointed out in "Are Sport Utes Really the Brutes of US Highways?" (Work & Money, March 23) sport-utility vehicles cause a number of problems - excessive fuel consumption (with its aggravation of trade deficit, pollution, and greenhouse gas production), accidents due to rolling, and greater mass upon impact in collisions.

There is a very simple solution that can be implemented immediately, until more technical solutions can be found. We learned in high school physics (which should be required to get a driver's license!) that kinetic energy, the energy of a body that is attributed to its motion, equals one-half mass times velocity squared (KE = 1/2mv2).

Thus the solution: a law limiting kinetic energy. Since SUVs average twice the mass of the average compact sedan, then the SUV's velocity squared should be correspondingly halved. That would mean regulating a 29 percent decrease in the SUVs' speed limit.

I am not asking others to do something I would not do myself - I have a Trooper SUV, the high clearance and four-wheel drive became necessary for my field work when a rough mountain road cracked the frame of my old Travelall. I drove most of the highway portions of a recent trip at 55 m.p.h. (versus an estimated 75 m.p.h. of vehicles passing me). I also commute by bicycle.

Bill Calder

Tucson, Ariz.

Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

University of Arizona

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