Letters to the Editor

Readers write about VP picks, establishing learning habits, Western media, and folk music.

Candidates' VP picks show decisionmaking skills

Regarding the Sept. 2 article, " 'Sarah who?' enters political spotlight": The real job of the vice president is to replace the president if necessary. To date, nine vice presidents have replaced incapacitated (or resigned) presidents.

The job of the president is to make decisions, and the first one to be made, even before there is an election, is who will be his or her replacement if need be.

History indicates that when a presidential candidate chooses a running mate, there is a greater than 20 percent chance that he or she, alone, is choosing the next president. It is arguably the most important decision the president ever makes. It is a decision that should be made on behalf of the country.

The person chosen as the vice presidential candidate should not be the person who will most enhance the ticket, but rather the individual from within each candidate's party who would make the best president should he or she be thrust into that position. To choose otherwise is to scorn the country and put it at risk.

Each of our would-be presidents has now provided an example of his decisionmaking. The significant point of their choices is not how smart it was as a device to get elected, but how sound it was for the country. From that point of view, which presidential candidate was most responsible?

Which chose the best he could find? Or conversely, which put the country at risk in order to enhance his own electability? For that matter, which was the most conservative?

Paul Gibson

Good learning habits start at home

In response to your Sept. 3 editorial, "Teacher pay at $100k?" I think Michelle Rhee's strategy addresses a small part of the cause of low academic performance in public schools.

A more effective way to raise grades is by engaging the parents. Many students have an "I won't sacrifice" attitude toward schoolwork that has largely been gained at home. Parental appeasement or outright apathy when it comes to their children's behavior is the main element that needs to be addressed. Setting high standards for schools (á la No Child Left Behind) or paying higher teacher salaries misses the point. It takes a village, but more to the point, it takes a strong adult (or two) to raise a child.

Lynn Austin
Campbell, Calif.

Consider other views on EU unity

Regarding the Sept. 3 article, "Russia sows division in Europe": Is Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's statement that Germany is an important partner really evidence of such a wish to split?

It would be great if just one leading Western media outlet would point out that the United States' foreign policy has divisive consequences.

Finally, what about quoting experts from institutes and think tanks who are not automatically defending the US and other Western nations? There do exist broader views on this crisis.

Dr. Jan Oberg
Lund, Sweden

Director, The Transnational Foundation

War years bring back folk music

In response to the Aug. 29 article, "Boom goes folk": I've predicted for several years that George W. Bush and the Iraq war would bring back the 1960s. I would take the fact of the folk music resurgence to be a bit of evidence that the prediction may be accurate.

David Holtz
Modesto, Calif.

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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