Dear Editor [New York Times],
In response to Nicholas Kristof's "Calling Bush a Liar" 6/30/2004, I believe Mr. Kristof is wrong to infer that the justifiable rage many people feel against the Bush policies is the cause of the polarization, the "political cesspool...making America increasingly difficult to govern." The last time I looked the Bush administration was in the seat of power, has it locked up for the time being. Their extreme right-wing agenda (and threat of more to come) is what is causing the polarization. If they are having "difficulty governing" I would judge that as a decided plus. Among other things, that's what democracy is supposed to be about.
Mr. Kristof believes Mr. Bush did "stretch the truth," "exaggerated in the run-up to Iraq," "but it was not flat-out lies." For a different analysis of that very claim, I cite Al Gore's speech of June 24 delivered at the Georgetown University Law Center:
...President Bush made a decision to start mentioning Osama bin Laden and Sadam Hussein in the same breath in a cynical mantra designed to fuse them together as one in the public's mind...Usually he was pretty tricky in his exact wording. Indeed, Bush's consistent and careful artifice is itself evidence that he knew full well that he was telling an artful and important lie -- visibly circumnavigating the truth over and over again, as if he had practiced how to avoid encountering the truth.
There is much more in the Gore speech describing less artful outright falsehoods by Bush.
Mr. Kristof is also wrong to equate the conservative and media attacks on Clinton's morals -- with the disgust of many in the public as it becomes more aware of the real implication of the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft agenda. The irony expressed in one bumper sticker says it another way -- "No one died when Clinton lied."
So if many writers and critics have "dropped all nuance about this president," as Mr. Kristof complains, it's not for want of profound, not trivial, reasons.