Letters to the Editor

Readers write about executive candidates' experience and Zimbabwean stone sculpture.

Policies matter more than character (or 'experience')

In response to John Hughes's Sept. 4 Opinion piece, "The 'experience' question: Judgment trumps pedigree": Mr. Hughes says that the principles, character, and common sense of presidential candidates should count in our evaluation, along with policy questions. I suppose so. Yet a highly principled, extremely likable, and accomplished common-sense president with bad policies is still what? A president with bad policies.

No one can predict how the personality of a president will interact with events and the office for good or ill. Trying to do so is a fool's errand.

Better stick to picking the one with the best set of policies for the country.

Theodore S. Arrington
Charlotte, N.C.

Professor of political science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Regarding the recent Opinion piece on candidate experience: I think that it is not just "experience," but, rather, preparation that should be evaluated. As a physician, I understand that before taking on serious responsibility, I had to prepare myself for many years. Ability was not enough, temperament was not enough, brains was not enough, desire was not enough.

John McCain, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden have all spent many years specifically preparing themselves for this challenge. Sarah Palin has not. She cannot, having stated only a month ago that she didn't know what the vice presidential job entailed, demonstrate the preparation that taking on the most important job in the nation would entail. You would not trust a surgeon with only a few weeks of specific preparation for your operation to operate on you, would you?

Rolf Nesse, MD
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Regarding the recent Opinion piece on "experience": Hughes discusses common sense regarding Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan. I wasn't around for President Truman, but from Hughes's description, he was exceptionally well read – might not that account for his success (in hindsight, for he ushered in a long period of Republican dominance) rather than some hypothetical common sense?

I was around for President Reagan, and he had the common sense to surround himself with exceptionally competent people. When they left in his second term, his presidency went downhill fast.

George Matkov
Staten Island, N.Y.

Enjoying African sculpture

In response to the Aug. 22 article, "Zimbabwe's art of stone": A magnificent exhibit of Shona stone sculpture has been on display for at least several years in the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport.

Each time I go there (somewhat frequently) I make a point of walking the distance between the baggage area and Concourse A.

The exhibit runs down the middle of the walking and moving walkway area. It includes photos and short texts about the artists, how the sculptures are made, and a few introductory photos and notes about Zimbabwe.

The sculptures evoke laughter, smiles, empathy for struggles, and simple admiration for the beauty the artists capture in nature and about the human condition.

I've gotten to know the various sculptures. Now I look forward to seeing "good friends." And it is good exercise – I'm motivated to walk that distance and usually more to farther concourses!

Margaret van Naerssen
Wayne, Pa.

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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