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Top 10 Letters

Decoding Gephardt, doubting Blair, doing drugs, and more.

12:00 AM, Aug 4, 2003
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.

*1*

William Kristol is a smart guy, but he appears to be making a silly mistake in Gephardt's 16 Words. Like other conservatives he is missing important nuances in the speech of a sophisticated thinker. Let me explicate Gephardt's statement a little so Kristol and the rest of the "I-see-in-terms-of-good-and-evil" crowd can see the subtext:

George Bush has left us [Democratic officials] less safe and less secure [in our taxpayer funded jobs] than we were four years ago.

--Mitch Porcius

*2*

My mother took me, almost 7 years old, to the execution by hanging of some SS generals back in Riga, Latvia, in spring 1946 (Stephen F. Hayes, Proof of Death. I clearly remember how a soldier "helped" to put the noose on the convict's neck with a thrust to the back of the head. The crowd cheered and cried when the execution was over.

Could a similar event have happen now in Europe or the United States? It is unimaginable that I might have taken my grandson to an execution. But does this make us wiser than our parents who survived the war?

Besides some operational considerations, the Iraqi people and the world need material evidence of the death of this contemporary national socialist regime. The embodiments of the regime must appear in humiliation, in chains, or dead.

--Izak B. Dimenstein

*3*

In Night and Day Katherine Mangu-Ward writes, "President Bush's list [of presidential Medal of Freedom recipients] is uniformly excellent, and incredibly revealing when compared to some of Bill Clinton's picks for the nation's highest civilian honor. . . . A glance over a full list of Clinton's choices hints at the political machinations at work beneath the surface. Bush's choices speak for themselves."

So what, exactly, do the two presidents' choices for the Medal of Freedom say?

A categorical analysis of Clinton's 87 honorees and Bush's 21 selections reveals some trends. The large plurality of Clinton's choices (41.4 percent) were private activists of one sort or another, ranging from Rosa Parks to the former head of the Girl Scouts of America. Politicians and public servants come in second (25.3 percent). And almost 1 in 10 Clinton Medal of Freedom recipients (9.2 percent) was a prominent Republican. Just 8.1 percent of Clinton's choices came from the world of sports, entertainment, and the media. The rest of Clinton's choices fit no clear pattern, with smatterings of awards to philanthropists, jurists, foreign leaders, soldiers, scholars, religious leaders, and the like.

Bush, however, has given an absolute majority (52.3 percent) of his Medals of Freedom to athletes, entertainers, and members of the press. Bush has honored no prominent Democrats (to Clinton's two Republicans at the same point in his first term). Almost 1 in 5 of Bush's picks (19.1 percent) are scholars of one sort or another. Bush has so far honored no soldiers or religious leaders with a Medal of Freedom.

The two presidents, Clinton and Bush, have presented us with contrasting selections for the presidential Medal of Freedom. Clinton mainly honored private activists and public servants; Bush mainly honors entertainers. Bush more consistently honors scholars. Both give a reasonable number of Medals of Freedom to friends and political allies. Clinton honored prominent members of the other party; Bush has not.

--R. Scott Rogers

*4*

I disagree with Fred Barnes's claim that governmental research "plays a minor role" in the astonishing record of drug development by the American pharmaceutical industry (Just Say No). The research and development performed by the pharmaceutical industry is the last step of a drug discovery process that typically takes decades and begins with advances in basic biology and disease mechanisms. The U.S. government spends billions of dollars each year on biomedical research, often focusing on basic science that may not be immediately profitable. In addition to training the scientists who work in the private sector, discoveries in government-sponsored laboratories play a major, critical role in drug development.

--Joshua Silverman

*5*