Two Letters on the Stimulus Bill
I know that there are “professional” letters-to-the-editor writers (one is yours truly), and sometimes some experts and “expert opinions” find their way to the “Letters pages.”
Additionally, one sometimes has to put up with “the angry diatribes and political screeds long regarded as editorial stock in the trade.” (more on this later)
But generally, such letters represent the average Americans’ voices: unfiltered, unembellished, hopefully uncensored, and only edited for length, grammar, clarity, etc.
That’s why, after opening my morning newspaper, or accessing it on-line, I naturally gravitate to the “Letters page,” as I did this morning at the New York Times.
While the Times may print a preponderance of “liberal-leaning” letters—reflecting its readership and the letters received—, most of the time one will find expressions of opinion from across the political spectrum, again, proportionate to the number of letters received voicing various opinions.
This morning was no exception. Of course, the topic was the stimulus bill.
I found that the following two letters clearly captured the character and the tone of a couple of aspects of the debate—yes, there are many more issues and opinions. Probably needless to mention, the first one appears to be from a Republican (or Independent, etc.) and the second one from a Democrat:
To the Editor:
With the constant drumbeat of Democrats claiming dire results if the stimulus package is not immediately passed, I wonder if part of the rush might be that they don’t want us to know all the “pork” it includes.
Those who crafted the plan demand that senators vote on it with barely a day to look through $800 billion to be spent and possibly squandered on projects, let alone actually study this unprecedented bill for efficiency and effectiveness.
With one of the lowest Congressional approval ratings in my lifetime, maybe our senators are too lazy or incompetent to comment on it anyway. They are big on rhetoric intended to manipulate public opinion, but keep in mind that they are the ones who should have prevented this financial meltdown in the first place.
Newport Beach, Calif., Feb. 7, 2009
To the Editor:
Re “Playing With Fire,” by Bob Herbert (column, Feb. 7):
For eight years, Republicans passed every spending bill George W. Bush put forward, creating the biggest deficits in our history and the current state of our economy. I have little doubt that if President Obama’s economic recovery plan were for Iraq, Republicans would pass it without flinching because, of course, anyone who balked would be considered antipatriotic.
But now that the “spending” is put forth by a Democratic president for people other than the wealthy, Republicans are playing political Russian roulette with the lives of millions of Americans.
There is something “‘stinking up the place,” as Senator Lindsey Graham said, but it’s not the economic recovery bill.
Tucker, Ga., Feb. 7, 2009
Back to Letters to the Editor in general. You may be surprised at this, but there is at least one book published on “Letters to the Editor.”
Its sub-title is, “Two hundred Years in the Life of an American Town,” and it is written (edited) by Gerard Stropnicky, Tom Byrn, James Goode, and Jerry Matheny.
The editors of this remarkable book have collected and published hundreds of Letters to the Editor written by the residents of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and nearby communities over a period of 200 years.
Some letters were written as early as in 1793, and some of the early topics include—fascinating!—the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the rise of Andrew Carnegie…
My earlier “the angry diatribes and political screeds…” is a quote from this unusual book that is packed with grass roots history. The following, extolling Letter Writers, is also quoted from the book:
We thank them for their hope. Implied in every words these authors wrote to their local newspapers the hope that things can get better. That hope defines America.
What appropriate, pertinent and timely words.