Salon readers weigh in on the snoozing media, the weirdness of Jim Bunning, whether left or right deserves the grand prize for sleaze, and more.

By Salon Staff
October 16, 2004 2:39AM (UTC)
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[Read "The Media Reaction: Ho-Hum, Just a Kerry Sweep," by Eric Boehlert.]

Boredom was the one feeling that resounded throughout our house as the third political circus was presented Wednesday night. Even my dogs went to sleep. Our fearless (or is that feckless?) leader stood there in all his regal presidency with a clot of what looked liked cottage cheese hanging from the corner of his mouth. The clot, at least, was more entertaining than Bush's mumbling, smirking, and lackluster attempts at rhetoric. I felt sorry for John Kerry as he tried for a third time to engage the petulant junior high kid in some sort of political debate.


However frustrating the process must have been, Kerry never lost his ability to articulate his own ideas and platforms. The right-wing pundits and other Kool-Aid drinkers made endless comments about John Kerry "having a plan for everything," which seems like an awfully poor insult. After almost four years of clueless behavior and cowboy foreign policy, somebody better damned well have a plan!

Besides, anyone with a sense of politics knows that the real debates take place around the water coolers the next day. But wherever you discuss it, whomever you discuss it with, and whatever your sources may be, in the end we all know that John Kerry, bored though he may have been, kicked ass.

-- Bridget Penrose


My own take on this phenomenon is that the media chatterers cannot see the forest for the trees. Most of the commentators these days are too rich and too immersed in the pool with top-tier politicians to understand the real appeal, to us ordinary folk, of Sen. Kerry's ponderous embrace of the minutiae of bread-and-butter issues during the debates.

The issue was outlined well by Sen. Edwards, when he said that the glow of the American dream he remembers as a young man is dimming for the middle class. The little people get the point, while the reporters have become so intoxicated with the sweet smells of power, money and influence that they no longer see or care about the nasty realities of the hoi polloi.

-- Madeleine Dunn


[Read "The Race to the Bottom," by Mark Follman.]

Mark Follman's lament that progressives are becoming as down and dirty as the right shows why we've been losing elections since at least the Reagan era.

His advice, "Don't chug a bottle of 100-proof Bush hatred, strap on the brass knuckles and keep punching until your opponent is a lifeless, bloody heap," is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.


He doesn't realize we are in a fight for the soul of our country. You don't win fights by being nice. These right-wingers cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be bargained with. The only thing they understand or respect is a major beating.

This is not the time for the Marquess of Queensbury. This is not a sport. It is a street fight.

We didn't start this. The right started it with their red-baiting during the Reagan era and cranked it into full swing when Clinton beat Bush in 1992. For eight years, Clinton and his wife were accused of everything from being communist sympathizers during the Cold War to being murderers.


In fact, given the long history of red-baiting by the right, I don't feel the least bit sorry that someone is comparing Bush to Hitler.

In fact, I think the comparison is accurate.

-- Sean Ledig

I was astonished by Follman's suggestion that the reader identified and excoriated by Daniel Okrent for his comments addressed to Adam Nagourney somehow "deserved" this treatment.


Okrent could have criticized the comments -- which, while intemperate, are hardly threatening -- without publishing the name and residence of the writer. By doing this in one of the country's most widely read publications, Okrent exposed this private citizen not only to ridicule but potential harm from the legion of right-wing crazies Follman describes (he has apparently already received voluminous hate mail). Okrent must have anticipated this, in fact counted on it; the clear message is that those who fail to communicate with Times writers in a "civil" tone will pay. This constitutes an unacceptable abuse of power.

-- Ira Hozinsky

It was after eight years of Clinton-hunting that I decided Republicans weren't worth the consideration of civil discourse. The things they did were appalling. Add to that their arrogance and "poor winner" characteristics of smugness and gloating, and it became all too easy to hate them and everything they stand for.

Now I wouldn't piss on a Republican if he/she were on fire.


-- [name withheld]

[Read "Weirdness in Kentucky," by Mary Jacoby.]

I'm calling "calf-rope." Kentucky's Bunning is weirder than Oklahoma's Coburn.

Damn, right when I thought we Okies had the craziest SOB in the country running for the Senate.

-- Shannon Hall


Word on the street here in Louisville, Ky., has it that Bunning knows he's ill and fully intends to resign immediately after he's elected. This would leave Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher the ability to appoint a (presumably Republican) successor. This embarrassing tactic is apparently more attractive to the GOP than the idea of losing a critical Senate seat to the Democrats in the upcoming election.

Bunning's baseball legacy may be secure, but given his voting record and his recent bizarre behavior, his political legacy here in the Bluegrass State is dicey at best.

-- Leslie Stewart

[Read "Why Conservatives Must Not Vote for Bush," by Doug Bandow.]


It was encouraging to read the article referenced in the "Doonesbury" comic, which gave a clear description of how the Bush administration has hijacked the term "conservative" and is using it as cover for his unholy alliance of fundamentalists, energy tycoons and pretend warriors.

I was a self-declared conservative independent, usually splitting my vote between Democrat, Republican and Libertarian candidates until the inexplicable wrong-thinking Bush administration forced me to become a contributor to the Democratic Party.

For some people, I think the weakness of Bush's policies and arguments may finally have become obvious in the debates. Without a trained audience to respond to key words and phrases, Bush himself seemed perplexed.

-- Douglas McLaren

It's a little late for Republicans to be waking up to the notion that their emperor is naked. The time to fix the problem was a year and a half ago, when an alternative candidate might have challenged a slam-dunk Bush re-nomination. Instead, we were treated to endless tough-guy posturing and adulatory photo ops en route to last month's near-coronation in New York City. (All that was missing was a shiny new crown for the president to place on his own head.)

"True" conservatives bemoan the odious choice they now face: reelecting an unmitigated disaster or holding their noses and voting for (yikes!) a liberal. Such are the wages of blind loyalty. It's time to admit mistakes (if that's even possible), cut losses, and vote for Kerry.

-- Marc Sloan

I wanted to thank you for opening your Web site to Doonesbury readers. I consider myself to be basically moderate. Nevertheless, I found Mr. Bandow's article to be thoughtful and thought-provoking.

I have been absolutely mystified by the support this president enjoys. Why are people supporting an administration that has failed so miserably on so many fronts?

Despite any liberal leanings I may have, I could easily support a number of other Republicans for this office, e.g., John McCain for one. But, for reasons I may understand but cannot support, the party chose to nominate someone -- who for all appearances seems to be -- woefully inadequate for this extraordinarily powerful office.

-- Brent Harshberger

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