Diplomacy in a Dangerous World
The comparison between John F. Kennedy and President George W. Bush is certainly timely [July 2]. Kennedy had the ability to read the briefings his military advisers put in front of him, while Bush has someone read the information to him. Kennedy had a wealthy father, as Bush does, but he also struck out on his own. Kennedy fought in a war heroically, while Bush did not. Kennedy valued the Constitution as the foundation for our laws, while Bush has trampled it. Our next President must be highly knowledgeable of domestic issues and adept at foreign diplomacy to save us from ruin on both fronts. The next President should be an intellectual, not a saber rattler.
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA
Wow, so national polls place J.F.K. among the three greatest Presidents. That's laughable. Compared with giants like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt (the last three on earlier Making of America covers), J.F.K. was a spoiled rich boy who took most of his barely three years in office learning the job, getting little of his domestic program through Congress, having his foreign policy set by trial and (huge) error, and playing politics with civil rights. And he used his power to make sexual conquests.
Kenneth Solnit, CUPERTINO, CALIF.
Thank you for shedding light on war hero Kennedy's real feelings about war. "All war is stupid," he once wrote, and as your article revealed, he went about trying to outwit some hawks, who were always eager to wield force to resolve difficult issues of their time. I think that Kennedy would have been nauseated by the opening salvo of the Iraq war, the "shock and awe" that was such a vulgar, inhumane display of power.
Sybil Hinkle, NAPA, CALIF.
I was impressed by your recounting of J.F.K.'s visionary struggle for world peace. I am 71 years old and distinctly remember that sad day in November 1963. We sorely need the wisdom and courage of Kennedy, who knew that diplomacy was preferable to unfettered military engagement. If our current leaders understood that true power comes from America's democratic ideals, not military prowess, we would not be facing the most precipitate loss of power and prestige in our nation's history.
Dale C. Stapleton, GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. David Talbot's paean to J.F.K. excessivelly praised someone whose legend is almost totally due to his having been assassinated before his many shortcomings and follies could become more apparent. Academic and journalist sycophants will stop their fawning and face up to the deficiencies of J.F.K.'s presidency only when the Kennedys' wealth and power have waned.
Stuart L. Meyer, EVANSTON, ILL.
Despite the considerable partisanship that existed at the time, equally as bad as today's, Kennedy reached across party lines and appointed Republicans C. Douglas Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury and Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense. If the Democrats capture the presidency in 2008, they must reject the current Administration's extreme partisanship and adopt J.F.K.'s bipartisan approach.
James N. Giglio, SPRINGFIELD, MO.
David von Drehle's piece about the courage of firefighters such as those who died recently in a Charleston, S.C., fire was a poetic and visceral description of emergency workers' tremendous bravery [July 2]. Sometimes chaos does win over science. Thank you for reminding us that heroes do their job every day. They deserve our thanks, respect and awe.
Kathy Crochet, LAPLACE, LA.
The value of trees in our cities can truly be seen in places like my hometown, sometimes called Tree City, U.S.A. [July 2]. Taking in the view from the nearby mountains, I sometimes find it hard to believe that there's a city down there. On hot days, we're really thankful for all the shade. I hope that city planners everywhere can follow Pasadena's example.
Sam Huddy, PASADENA, CALIF.
Unconditional Love Denied
I pity Lisa Takeuchi Cullen's neglected basset hound, Hoover [July 2]. What a terrible fate, to go from being a cherished companion to an irritant, an empty space on this year's Christmas card, just because Cullen had a child. Although I find it difficult to compare the love of a child with that of a pet, dogs won't stamp their feet in the supermarket or come home with tattoos.
Deniz Yildiz, PLAINVIEW, TEXAS
It's sad that Cullen's heart isn't big enough for her new daughter and her old faithful dog. Ironically, her daughter might feel smothered by Cullen's focus on her. And if Mother Cullen keeps the dog, her daughter will probably get a lot of joy from Hoover's unconditional devotion. I'll never forget how much I loved my childhood dog Freckles.
Susan E. Davis, CENTERVILLE, IND.
Meals Among Strangers
I really enjoyed Lisa McLaughlin's article on communal dining [June 25]. The best example I've seen is Bully's East Restaurant in San Diego, which has a horseshoe-shaped bar at table level. The shape is essential because everyone slightly faces one another, making conversation more agreeable. It is wonderful for solo diners.
Robert Bourque, LOS ALAMOS, N.M.
Communal tables are not new to old-time New Yorkers. Dominic's on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx has been there as long as I can remember (I'm 75), and great food is always on hand. Unfortunately, you will not find butternut-squash dumplings, but the stuffed artichokes are to die for. And I still mourn the loss of Sloppy Louie's at South and Fulton streets, where I learned to eat fish. It served a bouillabaisse that was extraordinary. There were others, but why belabor the point? And that's only in New York City.
Bart DeVito, NEW YORK CITY
While it is fascinating to see touch-screen technology used in the iPhone and other devices [June 25], a part of the population is greeting it with much distress: people who are blind. Equipping appliances such as microwaves and washing machines--not to mention voting machines--with touch screens will cause a "one step forward, two steps back" situation. If designers can figure out a way to not leave the blind behind, we can truly celebrate the technology of touch.
Thomas J. Murphy, BRIDGEPORT, CONN.
A Rat of Refined Taste
TIME asked, "Can An Audience Love A Rat?" [June 18]. What a question! Millions of pet-rat lovers around the globe (including me) will turn out in droves to watch Ratatouille's Remy turn his dream of being a gourmet chef into reality. Pet rats (and their wilder cousins of course) are simply amazing. Cute, adorable, clever, mischievous--you name it, they've got it, all rolled into one amazing personality. Cheers, Remy. We love you!
Rina van Coller, PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
LETTER FROM A DOG