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 John 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 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.

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.