Readers weigh in on Arnold and Rush. Plus: Moon's influence in the White House, and the problem with "ranting" progressives.

Published October 7, 2003 6:33PM (EDT)

[Read "The Teflon Groper," by Tim Grieve.]

Let me get this straight. If it's Bill Clinton in the White House, its reprehensible conduct. If it's Arnold Schwarzenegger on a movie set, it's OK.

In either case, it is ego run amok with total disregard for the dignity of the female victim and of the obligations of the public personality to his constituency to act responsibly. This type of conduct betrays a weakness of character that should raise serious questions regarding the ability of either man to exercise sound judgment when confronted by the temptation to succumb to his baser instincts.

Schwarzenegger is right about one thing. It is dirty and sordid politics. It was when his fellow Republicans did it to Clinton. It is not any cleaner when the tables are turned. All in all, these sorts of affairs are dirty and sordid on both sides. Our politics should be conducted on a loftier plane. Thus, when these affairs arise, the culprit and the accusers should leave the arena. To remain for the sole purpose of focusing on this type of conduct, or defending conduct that is indefensible, solely for the purpose of winning, detracts from all the vital public issues that deserve attention and sincere attempts at resolution.

-- Tim Vujnich

What continues to amaze me about the Republican response to allegations of Schwartzenegger's sexual misdeeds is that these are probably the same people who were howling for Bill Clinton's head for having consensual whoopie made upon him.

If one was looking for a greater indication of the shallow morality at work in the modern Republican Party, one need look no further.

-- Marta Randall

Once again we're reading the progressive prudery attack, California Dems sounding like Victorian ladies. It's odd: Clinton's cigar insertions = private behavior. Arnold's boorishness: how awfully, awfully nasty. My God, he even claims to have had group sex! Please. How you must miss the sincerity of Arianna's Brentwood radicalism.

Both Arnold and Clinton have predator tendencies. At least Arnold isn't lying about it. What does this really have to do with being governor?

-- James Stauffer

After reading the comments of those Californians who blithely rationalize away behavior that would land most of us mere mortals in jail, I wanted to initially chalk it all up to typical West Coast airhead thinking. However, I'm now thinking that this moony love for the Groper is more a product of the emasculated public school and university systems brought about by Proposition 13 that devastated California's once-fine public education system. This is an ongoing tragedy that will result in the election of a would-be criminal to the highest office in that state. Yikes!

-- Steve Hodges

[Read "Rush Limbaugh Is Still a Big Fat Idiot," by King Kaufman.]

Rush Limbaugh's remarks about Donovan McNabb were nothing less than his basic diatribes about affirmative action and the "liberal media" dressed in sports analysis. In other words, it's race baiting, and barely once-removed. Maybe he's been pulling this shit for so long that he isn't conscious of it, or, even more pathetic, he really is just that plain ignorant of his own deeply ingrained views about race. Now he can trot back to his radio show, wring his hands, plead to his minions and reinvent "conservative victimology."

The man, and I use that term loosely, is a piece of work.

-- Peter Barry

Who gets the credit when things go well has been the topic of probably millions of discussions among fans of all sports over the years. Did the Packers win because of Starr or Lombardi? Who was more important to the Bears' Super Bowl win, McMahon, Ditka or Ryan?

This phenomenon goes both ways, with questions about who is to blame when things go wrong argued just as vociferously (over the past five years here in the D.C. area, discussions about who is to blame for the plight of the Redskins or the abysmal situation the Wizards are in has probably reduced overall productivity in this area by a couple of percentage points). It also extends into other aspects of life; Limbaugh has made an industry out of giving blame and credit in the political arena.

Over the years I've come to believe that we give high-profile individuals (quarterbacks, coaches, managers, presidents) more credit than they deserve when things go well, and more blame than they deserve when things don't go well.

But where Limbaugh crossed the line was when he applied this standard to black quarterbacks only. Plenty of quarterbacks have gotten more credit for a team's success than they deserve, but Limbaugh only seems to be offended when the quarterback in question is black. That, my friends, is racism.

ESPN should have fired him, but then again they never should have hired him.

-- Kevin Golden

When ESPN hired Limbaugh I stopped watching "Sunday Countdown." I never saw his show because of what I knew would eventually happen, and it did. Why else would they hire a political racist hack unless they wanted what they got on Sunday?

I'm pissed: This thing never should have happened. As McNabb said during his press conference, "Lots of kids watch that show." Other heads should roll.

-- Willie Fouse

[Read "Bad Moon on the Rise," by John Gorenfeld.]

John Gorenfeld charges me and other contributors to the Free Teens Web site with making such statements as "sex can be a lethal weapon" and "people who look perfectly healthy can carry the AIDS virus." In case he hasn't noticed, 24 million people have already died from AIDS with 40 million more infected, including many who were infected as teenagers or in their early 20s. And, yes, people who look perfectly healthy can be carriers of HIV. It would seem that your reporter would have us all pass out the condoms, draw smiley faces and sing Kumbaya.

There is a real story to be written about Free Teens, but Gorenfeld's article completely missed it. Just last weekend, more than 100 teenagers gathered at a Free Teens Media Summit, which gave them opportunities to create their own music, performances and videos about the world of relationships they see every day and their hopes to do better. The energy and creativity there was incredible.

We make no apologies for what we do to be real with teenagers and to help them achieve their own future goals. Forming healthy, lasting monogamous relationships, and strong families are at the top of their lists. And, at the top of ours.

-- Richard Panzer, Founder/Director, Free Teens USA

[Read "The Crisis of the Pro-war Liberals," by Michelle Goldberg.]

Reading the Letters section this evening I came across David Essex's response to "The Crisis of the Pro-war Liberals." It illustrates the kind of argumentation that helped drive me away from the progressive position.

Too often, to a progressive, the opposition is not essentially decent people who happen to have a different opinion on how to achieve our common goal of a just, prosperous nation and world. They are earth-raping, greedy, venal criminals bent on destroying civilization. There's no subtlety. There's no nuanced argument, just a long string of superlatives and shopworn insults.

Here is a list of the hyperbole I detected in Essex's four paragraphs:

-- Iraq is a "fiasco"
-- Iraq is a "smokescreen"
-- "ignoring" Afghanistan
-- "looting" the treasury
-- "gutting" the Bill of Rights
-- "raping" the environment
-- "poisoning" the discourse
-- "numerous lies, crimes, and derelictions perpetrated"
-- "landslide of scandals, committees, impeachments and indictments"
-- "abject" failure
-- "outright" fraud
-- all Bush has "ever done well" is "line his patrons' pockets"
-- the trend is "absolutely" predictable
-- "incredibly" easy to foresee
-- Bush will mishandle "everything" he touches

A fair-minded person would say that not a single one of those statements was expressed in the spirit of finding literal truth. You may disagree with his policies, but the evidence suggests that George Bush is a good man who is determined to do what he sees as the right thing for our country. That doesn't include "raping" the environment, "gutting" the Bill of Rights, and so on. These are the rantings of someone who needs to take a breath and learn how to give the other guy a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. When someone has to scream as loudly as Essex does in his letter, it makes me doubt that his points have much credibility.

And as for "poisoning the discourse," I imagine Essex has Ann Coulter near the top of his enemies list, but his writing is an exact mirror of hers -- full of bile and contempt for the intelligence and morality of his fellow citizens who don't share his political worldview.

The progressive position deserves to be aired but adults won't respond to tantrums.

-- Mark Jankus

By Salon Staff

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