Should President-elect Bush pardon Bill Clinton?

In my opinion, it would be a travesty if President-elect George W. Bush pardons Bill Clinton (Godfrey Sperling's Dec. 26 column, "Why President-elect Bush should pardon Clinton").

Once and for all, we need to show the world and our kids that we are accountable for our actions and that even a former president is subject to accountability.

To sweep this under the rug with a pardon would be a criminal act. We need to stand up and demand a trial for the actions of President Clinton.

Grace Tams Myrtle Point, Ore.

Columnist Godfrey Sperling's call for President-elect George W. Bush to pardon Bill Clinton will probably be one of many such calls if independent counsel Robert Ray indicts President Clinton for offenses related to those for which he has already been fined by a federal judge.

Mr. Sperling is right that it would be divisive for an indictment and trial to occur. On the other hand, the problem with a presidential pardon for Mr. Clinton is that it teaches a bad lesson to our children. They would see that if a person rises high enough in the power echelons, then a different system of justice applies. The whole idea of all men standing equal before the law will be undermined. The weakening of this founding principle of our republic would be more damaging than a trial and conviction.

Marty Crow Longview, Texas

Big omission in Washington's 'best'

Your article on a survey of professors ranking Washington's most successful programs since 1944 left out the most influential program of all - the GI Bill ("Uncle Sam's best move in 50 years? Marshall Plan," Dec. 21). The GI Bill created, for the first time, an energized, educated, and productive middle class.

If only we had the likes of that program today, perhaps we would not be experiencing the ever-widening gap between the very wealthy and the very poor.

Elsie Simon Seattle

Drop in consumer sales nothing to rue

The Dec. 20 story tracking the decline in Christmas consumer sales, "O come all ye shoppers ... please?" was interesting. However, it is unfortunate when we cannot turn analysis to the thought that maybe people are finding other ways to express themselves this season.

In the spirit of the dismal "Grinch" film and its mega-merchandising appendage, it seems difficult to find fundamental support for more basic values.

So many of the ills of the world have their roots in the economic models which promote consumption and growth ahead of all else. For me, the decline in consumer confidence is welcome, and my New Year's wish is that it will translate itself into a confidence that is people-centered, and not consumption-centered.

Glenn McRae Essex Jct., Vt.

Who says boys are better?

On Dec. 14, I welcomed our new baby girl into the world. Therefore I read with much interest your Dec. 15 story "Results are in - and boys (still) win." I am apparently in the minority of those who prefer daughters.

My wife and I decided to wait and be "surprised" by the gender of our baby, but I secretly yearned for a girl. I truly believe the world is in desperate need of more strong females, and sincerely expect my daughter will be one. After caring for my new daughter for just over one week now, I am inspired with "warm goo-goo feelings inside," and I would like to be counted among the 27 percent of Americans who prefer girls.

Marc A. Murphy Wilmington, N.C.

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