Letters

Readers respond to Salon's coverage of all things DNC, and more.


Salon Staff
July 30, 2004 12:41AM (UTC)

[Read "The Undeniable Appeal of John Edwards," by Tim Grieve.]

I disagree with Tim Grieve's assessment of Edwards' speech. It was a powerful, moving, successful cap to last night's convention events.

It made complete sense for Edwards to revamp his "two Americas" speech, as the whole point was to reach out to voters who are just starting to tune in to the election now. Both Obama and Edwards have given me -- a jaded Democrat -- a new opportunity to be an idealist again.

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-- Gretchen Voter

This convention has cost the Democrats the election: It's no secret the Republicans will use their convention to tear John Kerry to pieces, so while I certainly didn't want to see the Democrats resort to the ugliness of Karl Rove, the kumbaya-fest they mounted was a complete disaster. The Bush administration needs to be held accountable for its failures and deceits.

It was the responsibility of the Kerry-Edwards convention to clearly identify these disastrous failings and clearly offer solutions. No one really cares to hear about "two Americas" and "the skinny kid with a funny name." We want new directions and viable options.

We got neither. This convention has portrayed the Democrats as vague and insipid. It was Kerry's race to lose, and he lost it.

-- Michael Smith

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[Read "Hollywood Celebs Speak Out in Boston," by Tim Grieve, and "Jerry for Kerry," by Mark Follman.]

With the DNC in Boston, I knew the networks and online media outlets were going to include Ben Affleck in their reporting. With the RNC in New York I was at one point certain I would see Ben and Jennifer Lopez (Benifer) being the subject of more quasi-news interviews and reports.

Too bad their breakup occurred, because having Jenny from the block and Ben from whothehellcares would have been a nice diversion from the actual news, like a story about Barack Obama or your continued calling-out of voter fraud and disenfranchisement. Oh wait, it wouldn't.

Don't we have enough celebrity interviews already from the other outlets? While being able to switch from political news reporting (which you do very well) to more lighthearted entertainment fare (which you also do very well) is a great attribute in a news outlet, combining the two is (let me find the right word here) evil.

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-- Dan Shorey

It was interesting to see you divide celebrities into "serious" and "not serious" and lump Jerry Springer in with the "not serious" group. I think you must have let the characters these folks play on TV overshadow the characters they actually are.

Springer was in politics before he was a TV personality. He was mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio. That's no sinecure; Cincinnati is a big city with a host of urban ills. Springer is still involved in Ohio politics, not as a Hollywood pundit, but as someone who puts in his time even when the events aren't on TV.

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Regardless of what you think of Springer, his scandals, or his television show, you ought to respect his continuing involvement in the process.

-- Katherine Becker

What is it with Salon and Jerry Springer? If I were a right-winger, I couldn't imagine a better Exhibit A for the contention that Democrats are morally corrupt.

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So why must you give him a platform?

-- James Manheim

Rob Reiner is right that hardly anyone still thinks Bush and Gore are basically the same. But in 2000, unless you did your homework and looked at Gov. Bush's "accomplishments" in Texas, you could have very easily concluded they were both centrists with one slightly more to the right and the other slightly more to the left. I don't believe Mr. Gore put anywhere nearly enough emphasis on his policy differences with Gov. Bush, and I believe that got him into trouble, even without the Republicans' willingness to outright steal the election.

Even today, if all you do is listen to Bush's prepared sound bites, he doesn't seem like the rabid, right-wing zealot his actions indicate. For example, he was so gracious to the Clintons when they came to their old house for portrait unveilings that the former president and the current senator were stunned.

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And that's the danger. Most Americans do not really research the people running for office. They form ideas based on what they see on TV. On TV, Cheney looks like an avuncular sage, sagely reassuring us that despoiling the environment is the only prudent energy policy, and that preemptively leveling a few more Third World countries is the best way to be secure and preserve the peace. Bush is quite capable of sounding like a compassionate, somewhat conservative Christian who really loves his neighbors at least as much as he loves himself and can, therefore, be counted on to do the right thing. Trust him.

-- Issai Chizen

[Read "USA Today Kills Ludicrous Ann Coulter Story," by Eric Boehlert.]

Though USA Today's logic behind canceling the Ann Coulter editorial makes perfect sense from the point of view of protecting the paper's reputation, I'm still disappointed not to see her column in print. Nothing the Democrats are saying in Boston this week would better spell out the danger of the fringe conservative mindset than the hostile incoherence that runs through her article.

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Republican strategists should be thanking their lucky stars that their party will not be associated with the rambling invective of Coulter's piece on the pages of a widely circulated, moderate paper.

-- Andrew Beck

[Read "'My Name Is Teresa Heinz Kerry,'" by Geraldine Sealey.]

I was extremely disappointed by the response of the PBS pundit panel to the Teresa Heinz Kerry speech. They called her "wonky" and thought she should have told "some little anecdotes" about her husband. And, of course, people on Fox were calling her "bizarre."

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I found her to be truly inspiring, and I was overwhelmed by her intelligence and profound statements.

Finally a first lady who speaks softly but carries a big message.

-- Charles Sommers

As a longtime resident of Pittsburgh, I can tell you that the Tribune-Review reporter Colin McNickle, to whom Teresa Heinz Kerry said "shove it," deserved what he got and more. The Tribune-Review is the second-banana paper here, with a heavily right-wing slant and a reputation for sleaze and inaccuracy. I've personally been witness to McNickle's shoddy work: After interviewing my husband, a municipal employee, about a new high-tech water-treatment plant, he wrote a story containing at least one factual error in every single paragraph.

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Though I'm sure the Democratic Party shies away from the somewhat un-p.c. nickname, it's worth noting that Teresa Heinz Kerry sometimes is called "Saint Teresa" here in Pittsburgh because of all the good work that she and the Heinz Foundation do.

I love that she is strong, smart, outspoken and tough. And though I felt her speech Tuesday night could have had greater energy and less "wonkiness," it did show just how much more this woman has to offer our country than the typical cookie-baking, interior decorating and children's-literature-advocating first lady. I hope Teresa Heinz Kerry continues to be an unscripted and honest voice, both in the campaign and in the White House.

-- Karen Kasper

[Read "A Star Is Born," by Tim Grieve.]

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As an African immigrant and a new African-American, I was less thrilled by than suspicious of the media's enthusiastic response to the newborn Democratic star Barack Obama.

What is all this hoopla about? While there's no doubting his intelligence, charm or unique background, and while I will vote for him any day, I'm a little concerned.

The media have a tendency to elevate obscure, innocent Joes and Janes from out of nowhere and make them famous. Then, when such stars reach the political hall of fame, the media eat them alive. Ultimately, such candidates pay the price for having the media love them too much.

Why do American media feel the need to dictate who we should love and hate? Does anyone else feel programmed as I do?

-- Abdi Bashir

Obama's speech last night brought down the house; he said the things that Americans want to hear and outlined a future that Americans desperately want for our country.

Obama didn't trash the current administration, because he didn't have to: Instead he clearly outlined, in a positive way, all the things that are not happening under Mr. Bush's leadership.

-- Jan Overstreet

[Read "How Should John Kerry Talk About Values?" Compiled by Salon Staff.]

Ever since Republicans interjected "values" into the political discourse -- specifically in the sense of "traditional family values" and "religious values" -- the Democrats have been struggling to counter these powerful phrases.

Kerry and Edwards should promote "enduring American values" as a counterbalance to "traditional family values." Doing this could redirect the values debate toward the founding fathers and their profound belief in the value of debate and discussion about U.S. policies, their faith in religious diversity, and their struggle to build a nation of tolerance and equality.

Rephrasing the values debate like this could be a boost to the Democrats and might even interject "real American values" into our political process.

-- Lynn Cohen

The reason liberals have a hard time convincing Americans that they have "strong values" is that liberal programs are programs that help people out when they haven't been able to help themselves.

Successful people, meaning people who earn a lot of money, don't need government programs, and asking someone to support these programs for their own good is tantamount to asking them to admit that they might not be successful in this competitive world.

No one wants to think of himself or herself as a loser or even a potential loser, and even if they aren't doing well now, they convince themselves that they will be. For many Americans, supporting liberal ideals is the same thing as admitting failure.

-- Taylor Sanders

On Tuesday, Howard Dean did a great riff on being afraid of saying you're a Democrat. It was a puzzling moment for Brooks and Shields, PBS's political commentators for the convention. "What does he mean? Afraid to be a Democrat? I never knew...?"

But I knew what Dean meant -- he just chose the wrong word. The word he should have used was liberal. It's a word I've not heard mentioned once during the convention, and I've been paying attention.

When, oh when are the Democrats going to stop running from the word, cowering from the word? Liberal values are good values. They are the core values of the Democratic Party, or at least they used to be before the word "liberal" was made a dirty word by the Republicans. They shame us with it. They attack us with it. They use it to make us go away, and to shut up.

I am waiting for one brave Democrat to stand up at the convention and take back the word "liberal." It means caring for the poor in our land, not ripping off Medicare, and not leaving the children behind. It's a good word. But it's a largely unspoken one. And that's sad.

-- Loretta Jacobs


Salon Staff

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