Bush doesn't need McCain to win moderates

Godfrey Sperling's March 21 "Vice presidents matter" column is thoughtful and perhaps predictive on the major point. However, the statement that Gov. George W. Bush sorely needs Sen. John McCain "to woo independents and GOP moderates" is a bit hard to comprehend. Anyone who studies Mr. Bush's record of leadership in Texas can see that his brand of Republicanism is moderate. Bush already has the backing of moderate Republicans, as demonstrated in his primary victories.

Mr. McCain did not attract many Republican moderates; he attracted Democrats, independents, and liberal Republicans. This is the branch of the party that has never won the White House (except by default when Nixon resigned).

I hope that Mr. Sperling doesn't define a "moderate" Republican as one who votes with the Democrats on most issues. If he does, then moderate Democrats would by definition be those who vote with the Republicans most of the time! In which case, the impeachment vote last year showed that there are almost no moderate Democrats in Congress.

Megan Capenegro Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

Regarding Godfrey Sperling's March 21 column "Vice presidents matter": The idea of George W. Bush as president and John McCain as vice president is the best I have heard yet.

We Republicans need and must work together, which is what has helped the Democrats in their winning battles for various offices.

Regardless of how we view things, if and when Republicans can finally take the ultimate steps of respecting one another, of listening with an open mind and a willingness to allow changes to take place, we will reach the highest of all points, a height from which it will be hard to bring us down.

Ninni Lemus Santa Ynez, Calif.

Learning from Australian gun control

Thank you for your March 24 article "NRA has our gun laws all wrong, say Australians" correcting misleading statements the NRA has been promoting about Australia's gun-reform laws.

This issue has been receiving considerable media attention within Australia, and it is a relief that US citizens are now also receiving facts to counter prevailing misconceptions.

While there will probably always be differing opinions about the merits, scope, and strength of gun restrictions, let us hope that facts, reason, and honesty will guide debate and legislation.

It is also good that some of the excellent legislative initiatives of other countries gain some attention in the US, since while the world can learn much from the United States, the reverse is also true.

Jason StoneToowoomba Queensland, Australia

Indonesia's Battalion 745

Your series on Battalion 745 of the Indonesian Army (week of March 13) makes sobering reading. Reporter Cameron Barr deserves praise for the precision and thoroughness of his investigation. The series will bolster the international campaign for justice following the atrocities committed by Battalion 745 during their withdrawal from East Timor.

Your (March 13) editorial "Our reporters on the trail" states: "Without justice against past military abuses, Indonesia faces difficulty in holding its new democracy together." Without justice or commitment to the rule of law, Indonesia has no right to call itself a democracy at all.

Alistair Budd Elsah, Ill.

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