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    Letters to the Editors

    Parties differ in constitutional views


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 4, 2002

    On Sunday, July 28, you published a pair of columns that intersected in a fascinating way. Charles Krauthammer's The difference between liberals and conservatives illustrated the deep-seated preconceptions behind the debate across this philosophical divide. A few pages later, Robyn Blumner opened her column, Visit with Egyptian Council on Foreign Affairs illustrated our division, by asking, "Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of people with whom you shared no common perspective? Not only do you disagree with their view of how things are and should be, but as they speak you realize you share a totally different view of history?"

    This is the most succinct and eloquent description of the conservative view of liberals I have ever seen in print. It was Krauthammer's thesis that the corresponding liberal and conservative views of the opposition are not symmetrical, with one being like the other except for having reversed opinions. Quite the contrary, one or both often fail to see what is really at the heart of the debate. Like most conservatives, I was a liberal in my naive youth. Due to this, it is my observation that conservatives generally know much about the thought processes of liberals, because it is how they once viewed the world. The same cannot be said of the vast majority of liberals regarding conservatives. The conservative position and its underpinnings remain a mystery to them because "everybody knows" a huge number of things that do not seem to lead to the conservatives' conclusions. It never occurs to them that many of these "givens" are verifiably false even though the media and popular culture are filled with them.

    I have read the U.S. Constitution and other documents of the period, as well as a good fraction of the many original historical records left by those who created our form of government, and I know many intelligent and articulate liberals have done likewise. In public debate, however, it is not critical to the liberal argument that any proposed course of action is in accord with the country's founding principles. Often, an attempt to bring these principles into the debate is met with sneering dismissal by the liberal proponent.

    Conservatives view the Constitution as a timeless masterpiece and the United States as a great unfinished work that needs to be made worthy of its Constitution. Our country's journey toward a land that lives its values now has more detours than forward progress. This is the journey that grieved Jefferson for its difficulty and for which Lincoln risked everything. It's the road that Martin Luther King inspired us to walk once again, and where Reagan lit the way in days of Cold War darkness. Yet today's liberals, when it suits them, view this same great Constitution as merely quaint, or in need of creative interpretation, or as the product of fatally flawed men. This leaves the basis of debate, so far as they are concerned, to be the mythology and spin of popular culture. So, speaking for those of us who want to live in "the Real America," when the discussion gets to that point, why bother?
    -- Gerry Puterbaugh, Seminole

    A charitable observation

    Re: The difference between liberals and conservatives, by Charles Krauthammer, July 28.

    Aside from the rest of Krauthammer's self-aggrandizement of the conservative wing of American politics, I really burst out laughing when I got to the part where he says, "the conservative attitude toward liberals is one of compassionate condescension." I guess he missed comments by the popular conservative columnist and TV pundit, Ann Coulter, last January to the attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference where she said, "We need to execute people like ("American Taliban") John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed, too."

    Right after his comment about conservative "compassionate condescention" toward liberals, Krauthammer went on to say that, "Liberals are not quite as reciprocally charitable." Let me prove him wrong by acknowledging that both political camps have their share of kooks, and leaving it there.
    -- Louis A. Claudio, Safety Harbor

    A simpler explanation

    Re: The difference between liberals and conservatives.

    The 12-plus-paragraph explanation of the differences between liberals and conservatives by Charles Krauthammer could have been summarized as follows:

    Liberals are trusting and optimistic because they believe people are much like themselves.

    Conservatives are fearful and hostile for much the same reason.
    -- Joseph Palazzo, St. Petersburg

    No expectations

    I read with great interest Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau president Paul Catoe's letter regarding support of the community for the Republican National Convention coming to Tampa Bay (Convention would be boon to bay area, July 28). I must commend him because when it comes to performing his job, the bureau should reward him with a huge salary increase. That is exactly what he is doing in his letter -- performing his job.

    Am I to feel better knowing that no government officials were involved in the creation of this "preliminary budget"? Perhaps before we talk about the budget, we should get the input from those who are elected to their positions, not just those who want to forward their own agenda. I am really tired of being told by persons that go by the name of "host committee" what is needed to elevate this community to a new level of worldwide awareness. Who is this "host committee" anyway?

    It seems that the only awareness these conventions bring out is the negative. The hype is so great around a convention like this that the fact of where it is being held is but a footnote to the real goings-on.

    Do you honestly think that one person is going to be convinced to spend time in Tampa Bay because a convention was held here? I think more people come to Tampa because two Super Bowls were held here than will come here because of any political convention.

    The ultimate slam on the intelligence of the citizens of this great area of Tampa Bay was saved for the last line of Catoe's letter: "We want, need, and expect the community's support." Mr. Catoe, please do not automatically expect anything, especially when it comes to preserving a great community like Tampa Bay that many intelligent people live in who do not want this convention anywhere near here.
    -- Michael King, Tampa

    Leader without a compass

    Re: William Luther Pierce's legacy of evil will live on, by Bill Maxwell, July 28.

    While I respect Bill Maxwell as a usually clear thinker, I'm a bit put off by his analysis of the life and words of Dr. William L. Pierce. There's a lot of room for criticism, but blaming a novel for all sorts of claims insults our intelligence.

    I found The Turner Diaries to be a mediocre work of fiction, not the sort of stuff that would inspire any normal person to do anything. What I find problematic is the hypocrisy of the likes of Morris Dees et al., who focus the blame for the Oklahoma City bombing and other mass crimes. They would defend their ideological brethren if one of them wrote a novel that was read by a criminal. When was the last time I heard the B'nai B'rith or Morris Dees condemn pornography? You won't hear from them any condemnations of smut as it relates to child abductions and murder.

    What I find most problematic about William Pierce's ideas is his lack of Christian charity and ethics. No matter how valid one's concerns about one's people and society, one must not lose sight of the limits put on us by God's sovereignty. In the end, Pierce got so carried away with his ideas that he forgot his moral compass.
    -- Leonard Martino, Tampa

    Bettering our city

    I am writing to commend and thank you for your excellent July 28 article The Deuces. This was journalism at its very best -- honest, unopinionated and a true effort at a thorough investigation of all the facts, with the clear intent of bettering our city as a whole.

    My hat is off to you. This is the St. Petersburg Times I remember. As a lifelong resident of St. Petersburg and an avid Times reader, my hope of integrity and honesty in the media was given a boost by this article. Too often we see the one-sided, opinionated style of reporting in both print and video.

    My simple thank you goes to Jon Wilson, the editors and involved staff, and the St. Petersburg Times directors and owners. This kind of thing is what will help us build a peaceful world of truth and justice. It is something all the children (black and white) can honor.
    -- Delores Fletcher, St. Petersburg

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