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Joe Klein and I may be miles apart in our views, but I found his story on political consultants [April 17] thought provoking--particularly the implication that one's character is defined by a stance on public issues. I believe it's the major reason the Democratic Party is in decline. Those of us across this country who are trying to help children become good, honest, loyal, hardworking citizens still tend to hold people unambiguously accountable for their personal conduct. We certainly need all the help we can get from our elected role models.
RUTH CANON Dallas
I hope we see candidates who reject insincerity and connect in a genuine way, but the cynic in me expects that the consultants might just offer the following advice after reading Klein's piece: "I've got it: you can't look like a performer. We've got to make you look genuine and appear to connect spontaneously. Let's do a focus group to see if people like genuine emotion. Then we'll find out which emotions resonate with the base, and we can script some spontaneous, emotionally real moments. Can you quote any Aeschylus?"
MATTHEW W. GOFF Austin, Texas
To paraphrase Captain Renault in Casablanca, I'm shocked, shocked that there are consultants working in politics! Give me a break, Joe. When you élitists stop covering the horse race and start addressing the issues, then consultants will have less sway over presidential elections. Heck, you guys are doing the consultants' jobs for them. You want to end the influence of media consultants on politics? Then stop playing their game, and cover campaigns in ways that benefit the American public.
BILL DELGROSSO Alexandria, Va.
In 2000 I was living in West Virginia and working for a steel mill when the steel industry was in danger. Candidate Dick Cheney visited our mill and said to us employees, "We will never lie to you." Al Gore never came. The Democrats lost the state --normally a Democratic stonghold. As long as the Electoral College exists, local issues will continue to matter, even if they do not get the attention of the national media.
PHIL ELBAZ Pittsburgh, Pa.
What it really comes down to, Mr. Klein, is what the American people see, read and hear--and how they evaluate it. After all, we are ultimately given only two choices. It just may be that the educated voters decided on the lesser of two evils rather than be influenced by what political consultants and pollsters had to say.
MAUREEN WAITE Kings Park, N.Y.
Klein's piece on the decline of character politics and the rise of the political consultant applies to politics not only in the U.S. but also in Australia.
BEN HERAGHTY Sydney
How could Klein possibly write an article about consultants and presidential politics and never once mention Bill Clinton and Dick Morris? Clinton's presidency was one long eight-year campaign. Now Hillary Clinton is starting to pursue the same strategy.
NICK YANUZZI Thousand Oaks, Calif.
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