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Your Mail: Edwards Chance, Sheehan's Chants, Goode's Rants

In my article on John Edwards’ second run for president, I wrote that he needed more than the poverty issue to have a compelling platform and that it would be tough to pass muster against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Judging by the 10 readers or so who replied to that column, it seems you either agreed or weren’t too interested in Mr. Edwards. In contrast, many more of you had something to say about Cindy Sheehan and the progress of the new Congress on Iraq.

Jim Washam writes:

John Edwards has obviously been concentrating his efforts in Iowa in order to gain political momentum going into other state primaries. However, don't discount his prospects for broad based appeal in other areas of the country. Two years ago, he and Kerry ran a very close race, and I believe that it was partially due to Edwards, because Kerry's personality and campaign style left something to be desired.

Also, it's not like Clinton and Obama don't have negatives, i.e Clinton's divisiveness and Obama's inexperience. John Edwards will make a very fine candidate, and I hope he is successful in raising the money required to be a serious contender.

SRE: Thank you for writing. I think that will be quite difficult, but the results in Iowa will likely be a shock to much of the country.

Thomas Pirotte, M.D. of Springfield, Mo., writes:

You said that John Edwards is a trial lawyer, but you didn’t forthrightly say that the term is a buzzword for “plaintiff’s lawyer.” So many of us have been so harmed by the abuses of plaintiff’s lawyers that we’re unlikely to gloss over this part of his identity and see his virtues.

SRE: Thank you for sharing your side of the story as an M.D.

Mike Seeley of Littleton, Mass., writes,

We could debate the wisdom of one last push in Iraq and "civil war" semantics, but your point is well taken. The Democratic party has no real plan for a redeployment in Iraq. Neither have they a plan for fighting the war against fundamentalist Islam.

SRE: I think they have several recommendations that they could follow, but think it is unfortunate that they aren’t pressing the president on them.

Mike Kovalski writes:

Why did you not speak of the virtues of Noriega, Castro, Kim Jung Ill and Chavez because they too agree with Sheehan?

SRE: Sheehan isn’t my favorite anti-war activist either, but I applaud her for holding the Democrats accountable for the reason they were elected into office.

Janice Miller writes:

Well of course the Democrats are going to lay low on Iraq now. If they start early withdrawal of troops and the Iraqi government collapses, they will have egg on their faces. The president knows the Democrats are going to demand troop withdrawal and cut off the funding for this war, so he probably is going to announce his own early withdrawal plans.

Better to let him have the egg on his face if the Iraqi government collapses. Either way it goes, the American people are going to pay the price.

SRE: I think not acting at this point will cost Democrats in the future. I think we both hope that this isn’t the case.

In response to my article on Rep. Virgil Goode’s hateful remarks about Rep. Keith Ellison, many of you wrote that Goode’s comments were proper and that Muslims are unable to integrate with a nation built on Judeo-Christian principles.

Certainly we should condemn the acts of violent, fundamentalist sects of Islam, but we should also recognize that a call to violence is a product of economic and political circumstances, and that being Muslim can be completely compatible with believing in democracy, the political process, and the separation between church and state.

R. Payne writes:

While I don't usually get that upset with the far left crowd you belong to, you give pause to anyone who can read. We are a country founded on Christian principles and the overwhelming belief in freedom. And, yes, we swear on the bible because we are pledging fidelity to our country. However, Mr. Keith Ellison wants a book that vows that he must destroy our culture, religion, and government.

Don't think so? Read the Koran. Still don't think so? Ask the Muslims why they don't stand up and condemn the murder, carnage and destruction being wrought on the world by Muslims.

If Mr. Keith Ellison will disavow those tenets of Islam and the Muslim teachings both in and out of the Koran that are the basis of the bloodshed, bombings and murder throughout the world, I will whole-heartedly give him my support!

SRE: I am sure that Mr. Ellison does not believe he is called on, as a Muslim, to destroy the American culture, religion and government. Thank you for recognizing the distinction between theories/thoughts and people.

Paul Busch, a Republican in Nelson County, Va., writes:

I am voting this ignorant bigot out in the next election. Thanks for your Blue Streak.

SRE: Amen!

A. Mustapha writes:

I'm in the Air Force and currently serving in Iraq. I just wanted to thank you for writing your article in response to all of this nonsense concerning our new appointed Congressman. I'm an American Muslim born in the U.S. who changed his name after becoming Muslim. It's shocking so see such ignorance in the our country's leadership.

I would hate to think that I can be called on to pay the ultimate sacrifice upholding our country's way of life and be treated differently because of exercising my constitutional rights! I think an apology is in order, but I thank you for your compassion.

SRE: Thank you for sharing your situation.

E.A. writes:

Virgil Goode is obviously a racist. He obviously does have Islamophobia and he basically sounds like a hillbilly redneck. He also seems to have a problem with speaking his mind when he probably shouldn't. But, he has the right to do that. He has the right to be all of those things and he can stand in front of a camera and spew any idiotic, hate-filled message he wishes to because the First Amendment in the Constitution says he can. It's the same amendment that you pointed out which guarantees Keith Ellison the right to swear on the Koran.

If Mr. Goode's constituents don't like it then he will be voted out of office. That's how our system is supposed to work.

I'm not saying that we can't all be offended and embarrassed by his remarks. We should distance ourselves from people like him and anyone offended by him has the right to ask for an apology. However, if you want to use Mr. Ellison's Constitutional right to freedom of religion then your argument falls apart because Mr. Goode has the exact same protection to say whatever he wants.

Let's acknowledge all of the Constitutional protections and let's acknowledge them for everyone...not just Democrats.

SRE: Thanks for your comments. I agree and stand as someone offended by his comments in want of an apology. I hope his constituents will demand better, but don’t believe that he doesn’t have the right to speak.

As for my article on news reporters being in search of a story in their reports of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, most of you agreed that more focus on the issues would be better.

Craig Taylor of Indiana writes:

I tend to disagree with you greatly on political matters, but this article about the headlines needing a story is right on! It's Jan. 4 for crying out loud, and not even Jan. 4, 2008!

If Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton has some great idea about the war or about crime or about the fight against drugs or about making education better, then why do we have to wait two more years to see if they will ever get mentioned? Suggest those ideas now and show that they will work now. Prove yourself adept at things now, then we won't have to wonder later if you're the right candidate. We'll know you are!

SRE: Great message, thanks!

Bob Hazlett of Smithville, Mo., writes:

Susan, if you want these candidates to air their real ideas, why don't you get them on Fox News and get them to say what those ideas are?

SRE: Haha, I will do what I can!

Jim Walsh of Toms Brook, Va., writes:

I'm not sure why you say there should be more of a debate about issues. The Republicans will absolutely have one -- the policy differences between Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are huge (especially since Republicans consider religion a policy) and that's all they'll talk about. So the problem is only with Democrats.

I guess there are some differences between Clinton and Obama on policies, but aren't they pretty minor? No major changes to social security, make college more affordable, extend health care coverage in a way that doesn't terrify the middle class. For every Democrat I know, the main difference between Clinton and Obama is which has a better chance of winning. I think that's the most important issue to most of us.

SRE: Interesting point, and I agree that particularly among Democratic fund-givers, that seems to be a crucial point. It might be too early at this point to elucidate the differences, but I say we should get them talking.

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission. A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership. Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.

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