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Sunday, January 18, 2004

Is Bush shirking 'healer' duty? Readers react


Your voice: Your responses

On Wednesday, Your Voice columnist Christopher Kelley, visiting assistant professor at Miami University, wrote that President Bush has not fulfilled his role as the nation's "Healer-in-Chief."

Excerpts:

The current administration has decided to shirk the healer role for the families and the nation who continue to lose loved ones in Iraq on a daily basis. ... By refusing to visit the military bases that suffer the loss of American lives (yet continuing to travel for political fundraisers), the president is able to control the message about the war on Iraq.

Some responses from readers:

Here is a little story that was told recently by Jack Tilly, the Sergeant Major of the Army: The Sergeant Major was at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., with a group of people visiting the wounded soldiers. He saw a Special Forces soldier who had lost his right hand and suffered severe wounds on his face and side of his body. He wanted to honor the man, but what can you do in such a situation that will encourage and uplift? He decided to act as though the hand were not missing, gripping the soldier's wrist while speaking words of comfort and encouragement.

But there was another man in the group who knew exactly what to do. This man reverently took the soldier's stump of a hand in both of his hands, bowed at the bedside, and prayed for him. When he finished the prayer, he stood up, bent over the soldier and kissed him on the head, telling him that he loved him. What a powerful expression of love for one of our heroes! What kind of man would do such a thing? It was the wounded man's commander-in-chief, George W. Bush.

Robert Patterson, Mason

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President Bush has visited military bases that have suffered loss in the war on terror at least three times in the last nine months alone, visiting Camp Lejeune, Fort Stewart and Fort Carson. He has not simply visited the bases - at each stop, he has met privately with the families of our brave fallen soldiers. He has also met with wounded soldiers and the families of fallen soldiers on numerous other occasions and visited wounded and recovering troops at Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

It is hard for a president to do anything without an entourage of cameras and reporters following close behind and blasting the image onto our TVs. But when President Bush visits wounded and recovering troops, or families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, he tends to leave the press outside. This respects their privacy and allows these meetings to be genuine expressions of our nation's appreciation and sympathy. I guess it has also resulted in some, including Mr. Kelley, not knowing that our Commander-In-Chief continues to be a Healer-In-Chief as well.

Rep. Rob Portman, Member of Congress

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The column provides a stunning example of ideological blindness. Kelley suggests the creation a new office - "U.S. Healer General," perhaps? - and he deigns to remind the president of his "responsibility . . . to explain to the rest of us that despite the loss, the effort was not in vain." Perhaps the president should make time to personally visit Kelley, offer condolences, and explain - well, everything. Kelley has, in fact, contributed to the ill-informed public he whines about.

Clifford Adams, Adjunct Professor of Vernacular Music, College-Conservatory of Music

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Last Sunday, Barbara Pinzka, who served as Pete Rose's public relations adviser shortly after his banishment from Baseball, came to her former employer's defense:

Investigator John Dowd was mandated by the late Commissioner Bart Giamatti to build a case against Rose - as opposed to conduct an impartial investigation. Dowd's report relied on the testimony of convicted drug dealers, one of whom tried to blackmail Rose. If the evidence was so indisputable, why did the well-respected baseball historian Bill James acquit Rose of Dowd's charges in his 1990 Baseball Almanac? .

Here is one reply:

If memory serves me, none of the principal accusers nor the others were convicted felons at the time Dowd interviewed them. Pinzka should remember that Rose is a convicted felon. Does she think his credibility exceeds the other felons in this situation?And just who did Pinzka think Dowd was supposed to interview? Undoubtedly Pinzka would have preferred Dowd seek out Rose's minister, his high school coach and maybe his wife. Rose's records are undeniable and belong in the Hall. He doesn't. As James Reston Jr. said in his book: "That Rose was possibly the greatest player of the modern age made his crime that much more evil." Since Rose made baseball wait 14 years, perhaps baseball should make him wait 14 years for reinstatement.

Paul Ashworth, Delhi Township

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On Monday, University of Southern California student Zachary Fox, a Sycamore High School grad, argued for a college football playoff system, citing the recent ranking controversy that saw USC and LSU splitting the crown:

If the goal is to crown an undisputed champion, the only solution is a playoff system. The biggest knock is that it would eliminate bowl games. It is possible, however, to maintain the bowl games without completely leaving the championship up to cryptic computers or subjective scribes.

A response:

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If there is only one undefeated team at season's end, why should it have to play off against anyone? If there are two undefeated teams, why should anyone else play off? Just match those two. If you have three, let the players pick a fourth and fifth who can play off to face one of the three. Players who have played against both teams would be best. Alabama players said LSU was "every bit as good as Oklahoma," which they also played. If all else fails, let me sort it out while you all kick back with a nice cold pop.

Mike Zempter, Athens, Ohio




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