Is Karen Hughes "monomaniacal" or a brilliant media handler? Will Congress save Iraq? Readers respond to "One Minute From Abnormal," by James Moore, and "Breaking Ranks," by Martin Sieff.

By Salon Staff

Published May 15, 2004 8:05PM (EDT)

[Read " One Minute From Abnormal," by James Moore.]

In his article on Karen Hughes, James Moore stated that "Hughes has cultivated an absurd, counterintuitive notion that she can either control or strongly influence what is reported."

Considering the press coverage Bush received during his campaign and during the initial phases of the Iraq war, I would say that Hughes' "absurd notion" has been proven to be absolutely correct. Moore's tone of condescension to Hughes in the article was odd, since any impartial observer can tell that Hughes has been extraordinarily good at managing the media. Perhaps Moore just can't bring himself to admit that Hughes and her fellow Bush press flacks have been successful in controlling and manipulating his friends in the press.

-- Marcus Stanley

I think Moore's take on the monomaniacal Karen Hughes is right on target. The scary thing is that many of the undergraduate students I teach here in Austin buy these [Bush administration] lines and repeat them with equal conviction, if not that faux "I'm just a poor little persecuted conservative" defensive fervor. It's frightening.

I would like to see someone put this question to Karen Hughes since she is so fond of rationalizing blood-for-oil politics with her rather warped conception of Christian morality: Ms. Hughes, you have claimed that you and the administration you represent "value every life" unlike your terrorist opponents (which apparently includes pro-choice activists). Yet, in an interview with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air" (3/31/04), when you were asked how you would respond to critics who say Bush's war has made that region more dangerous and less stable, you responded "better over there than here." This reply, in addition to being profoundly un-Christian, suggests to me that you do not indeed value every life. Do the teachings of Jesus Christ instruct you to love your "over here" neighbors more than your "over there" neighbors? If you value every life, how is it that American lives are more valuable than Iraqi ones?

-- Doug Norman

[Read "Breaking Ranks," by Martin Sieff.]

Though I am somewhat heartened to see the usual congressional administration critics (McCain and the Democrats) joined by some unlikely voices in taking Rumsfeld and co. to task, I can't help but feel that Congress is the branch that truly owes us an apology.

Their anger sounds a bit hollow in light of the fact that they voted to give Bush an absolute blank check to carry out this operation. They ignored the ambiguity in the pre-war intelligence. They didn't bother to ask if there was an exit strategy. They ignored -- even mocked -- the concerns of thoughtful Middle Eastern scholars, journalists, activists and protesters. They refused to challenge the intentional blurring of the line between Saddam's secular regime and the religious extremism responsible for 9/11.

No matter how much our government tries to sanitize and video game-ize it, war is always a brutal, bloody, hellish venture. This fact should be part of the decision calculus as to whether to fight one (especially an elective one). The members of Congress who abdicated their responsibility to make an informed decision owe us more than post-hoc righteous indignation. It is now our responsibility to hold them accountable in November.

-- Adam Schiffer

I am the sort of person who is generally skeptical of anything said by anyone in government, and I watched Rumsfeld's testimony live on Saturday (I live in Japan) with a deep regret that U.S. military abuses would be glossed over and any investigation token and streamlined.

As I listen now to Gen. Taguba testifying again before the Senate, I am however, and surprisingly, filled with feelings of hope and pride that I have not felt in years. The questions put to Gen. Taguba appear to be both genuine and far-reaching. Despite my pessimism, I am, much to my own shock, confident that these nauseating events will be dealt with in an effective and acceptable matter.

Don't get me wrong; this rare feeling of national pride does not reflect in any way on the Bush administration, nor will it affect my vote for John Kerry in November, but I do believe that there are more people in the U.S. Senate worth voting for than I previously believed.

-- Colin Lieberman

Salon Staff

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