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Attacks on ads for Bush follow political playbook

Published March 9, 2004

Backlash swift on 9/11 images in Bush ads, March 5.

The new ads for President Bush are being attacked by the Democrats as expected, and the attacks are following the standard Democrat playbook. First, find a sympathetic victim to complain then get the sympathetic press to blow the complaint way out of proportion. Your large misleading headline and above-the-fold story of the "backlash" is following the playbook exactly. This is a tempest-in-a-teapot.

The anti-Bush stance of your paper should stay on the editorial page not in the headlines. Incidently, the ads are probably the most positive and uplifting political ads I've seen in years; a far cry from the Democrats' gloom and doom ads that want to make you hang yourself.

-- Bob Luckenbach, Trinity

Playing politics with tragedy

It blows my mind that President Bush's advisers see nothing wrong with a political campaign message being carried on the backs of 3,000 people killed in the worst terrorist attack our nation has ever seen.

I applauded and believed Mr. Bush when he said he would never use the events of 9/11 for political purposes. And yet, here we are almost three years later and he has nothing else to fall back on as a reminder of his term in office. He took us to war on a whim, he has created tax cuts that have done nothing to help the overall economic situation for the majority of Americans, and he caves to the extreme right each and every opportunity he gets. So, yeah, I guess he needs to wave the flag over the graves of the people who died that day.

Please, do not tell me I need to remember how dangerous the world is now. I know. But don't ever diminish the deaths and sacrifices of that day by turning them into political excuses. Mr. President, wave your flag somewhere else.

-- Nancy McCarthy, New Port Richey

Balanced reporting?

The front-page headline in the March 5 Times: Backlash swift on 9/11 images in Bush ads. There were 209 lines in your article.

On March 7, buried on the bottom of Page 7A, we find Letter from Sept. 11 families praises TV spots - 37 lines worth. Also note how the front-page article refers to 9/11, which everyone knows, while the other refers to Sept. 11, which virtually nobody uses when referring to the incident.

I suppose we can just chalk this up to another incidence of your "balanced reporting."

-- Kenneth J. Kania, St. Petersburg

Bush was not among the heroes

There were many heroes in New York City and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11: firefighters, police officers, EMS people and others who helped save lives. President Bush was not among the heroes that day. As a matter of fact, the administration's initial response was poorly handled. While New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was on the street, I remember thinking, where is the president? Finally he appeared after several hours, speaking from an air base somewhere. He spent the rest of the day hiding in various bunkers. This may have been the cautious way to respond to an uncertain situation, but it was not heroism.

That tragedy does not belong to the president or a political party. It hit us all. We can focus on the followup in making our voting decisions, but let's not cheapen the true acts of heroism by trying to usurp them for political ends.

-- Jeffrey Harper, St. Petersburg

Politicizing the attacks

How dare President Bush use the images of the Sept. 11 tragedies in a campaign television ad? It demeans that solemn day and the memories of those we lost at the hands of terrorists.

Bush has done this before as a fundraising tool. Remember the Air Force One photo he sent to contributors? Now he's using images of firefighters and flags amid the World Trade Center rubble to garner votes in an election that most pundits predict will end with a razor-thin margin.

I saw firsthand that day a giant mushroom cloud rising over the Pentagon from the view out of my office window in Washington, D.C. I phoned my teacher-wife's school, a mere half-mile from the Pentagon, to make sure she and her students were safe. I scrambled to pick up my children from preschool while rumors of other attacks on D.C. ran rampant. And I lost my college roommate in the New York attacks.

I was mad as hell that day. And I think of those horrific minutes and hours often. Politicizing the attacks makes the memories that much worse.

Please, President Bush, don't use these images in your campaign. It's not right.

-- Christopher Noun, Palm Harbor

Ads show administration out of touch

This is beyond the pale! How can this man claim to be a "compassionate conservative" and use the suffering of the victims of Sept. 11, and the tragedy of our nation for political gain? His ad campaign is revolting, and is another sign of the disconnect between the Bush administration and the hearts and minds of the American people.

-- Aaron Civil, Wesley Chapel

Private vs. government is not the issue

Re: VA shows us government-run health care, letter, Feb. 29.

The sky is not falling, as the letter writer believes, because government is running health care for our veterans. Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson are right to show concern and seek corrective measures to resolve problems at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center. Employees of the VA should not be insulted because this matter is receiving proper attention.

Enron and Arthur Anderson are good examples of private corporations that went amok. Private vs. government is not the issue. Bay Pines is in a rehabilitation mode attempting to resolve its difficulties. If there is wrongdoing and mismanagement it should be determined. Bay Pines shows government in the sunshine at work: the concern of the employees and the watchful interaction of elected officials.

The federal government has the GAO and hires private companies like mine throughout the country to provide expertise in computer engineering, organizational psychology, management, economics and accounting when necessary. Our governmental agencies are made up of people. Each employee is responsible for his or her work.

Shareholders of failed corporations would agree that exposure of problems and correction is the preferred road. In government we call it a working democracy.

-- Geneva Forrester, St. Petersburg

Speak up, veterans

After reading Fix Bay Pines, VA boss urges on Feb. 26, I visited the office of Smith Jenkins, director of Bay Pines, who was quoted in your paper as saying, "There is no waiting list" to see a doctor at Bay Pines. I was not permitted to see him, but I asked his secretary to relay my message to him: "If he really believes that statement to be true, then he is either misquoted, uninformed or incompetent."

I suggested to her that he needs to correct or clarify that statement immediately. I gave her examples of the many waits that I have experienced. Among them was a canceled appointment in urology. I am a cancer patient in urology and others too numerous to go into here. I left my name, service number and telephone number. I have heard nothing!

Someone needs to start talking to patients, and the patients need to start talking! The Bay Pines patient information booklet, VISN 8, Volume 5, Fall 2003, states the vision of "becoming the health-care provider of choice" for veterans. It also discourages seeing a private physician to provide better coordination of care. I have a private physician to protect myself.

I have nothing but admiration for the medical and support staff at Bay Pines! But they are so understaffed and overworked that their stress levels have to be very high. Because of the serious understaffing at the VA Medical Center, the delays in providing much of the treatment borders on malpractice. Those responsible are the legislators who provide the funding and the administrators who control these funds. It's time something is done - now!

Speak up, veterans. Contact your congressman. We need the St. Petersburg Times' help in publicizing this issue.

-- Michael Valvo, Seminole

Getting excellent care

It is a pleasure for me to add my comments about the wonderful services I receive at the Bay Pines medical facility. The dedicated doctors, nurses, lab technicians and volunteer staff are to be congratulated for their professionalism and compassion.

I always receive courteous and prompt attention during my scheduled appointments. Although the facility is experiencing some internal difficulties, I have not experienced any reduction in the high standards of excellent care provided me.

-- Albert Lacroix, North Redington Beach

Primary system needs an overhaul

Your recent editorial comment (Kerry for Democrats, March 4) about Florida, as usual, having virtually no say in our presidential primary, prompts this observation. Our nationwide primary system needs a complete overhaul.

Our state was the final battleground in our last presidential election, yet this primary season the candidates have been selected without our input.

Some states have caucuses, others have primaries. Some of these are binding, others are nonbinding. Some are winner-take-all, others are proportional based on the percentage of votes a candidate gets. Some are closed to party members only, others are wide open. Most are on different days. What a mess!

Here's my "perfect world" suggestion. Since we supposedly operate under the party system, all primaries would be for party members only. All primaries would be uniform in how delegates are apportioned to candidates. There would be one nationwide primary day for all parties and one nationwide run-off day for all parties. Then the final general election would be open to all voters.

Here's the part you're going to love. No exit polling or early reporting would be allowed. The media would have to wait until all polls are closed and all votes tallied before they could begin reporting.

In the words of an old ballad, "I can dream, can't I?"

-- Paul S. Cooper, St. Petersburg

Vote your conscience

This is an urgent call to every registered Democrat to vote in today's presidential primary.

Although Sen. John Kerry is the presumptive nominee, this is your chance to let him know what matters most to you, by voting for the candidate who best stood for those issues. The Democratic National Committee will be paying very close attention to what Florida voters say, because, again, Florida may well determine the outcome of the general election. Vote your conscience today. Your vote will count for a lot.

-- Bonnie Agan, St. Petersburg

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They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

[Last modified March 9, 2004, 01:35:32]


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