Joe Klein ignored the most important reason Barack Obama is winning: media adoration [Feb. 25]. Where is the scrutiny of Obama's flawed policy proposals, his attacks on Hillary Clinton's proposals, his business dealings and record in the Illinois state legislature? Television news programs relentlessly broadcast far more comments and video highly favorable to Obama. Klein repeatedly tells us Clinton is not inspirational, but millions of us find her very inspiring. We believe we are electing a president, not a television evangelist. Too bad the press disagrees. Our democracy is not well served.
Horace Newton Barker Jr., CHATTANOOGA, TENN., U.S.
In U.S. elections, perception is everything. A pretty face, a pop-star aura and clichés about welfare, justice, freedom and change are all a candidate needs to lure ecstatic audiences into believing the new messiah has arrived. Form rules over substance, and Obama thrives on it. His charisma obliterates the emptiness of his message. Too bad for Clinton. Her voice is too shrill, her laughter too loud and her tears too easy. Who cares about her profound knowledge of the issues, her long experience with Washington's maze and ways, and her useful insight into the Republicans' bag of tricks? Yet such substantial qualities are vital in the final race to the White House. Confronted with the Republican candidate in a nationwide election, Obama won't stand a chance.
Herman D'Hollander, ANTWERP, BELGIUM
The Oscars Blooper Reel
Richard Corliss is fully justified in griping about incorrectly awarded Academy Awards [Feb. 25]. There should be retrospective awards to correct previous errors of judgment. They could be awarded on Oscar night each year as an adjunct to the main ceremony. Citizen Kane could then at last! be advertised with an Oscar cachet. Not that it needs to, of course but still. And second-place nominees in any category should automatically be included in the next year's voting, affording the Academy a more immediate opportunity to correct glaring errors.
Jan Schaafsma, BETTY'S BAY, SOUTH AFRICA
Corliss thinks Shakespeare in Love and its leading lady, Gwyneth Paltrow, were not Oscar worthy? The film has the cleverest plot, the most literate dialogue and the best acting and musical score, all while offering hilarity and heartbreak, romance and cold calculation. It succeeds marvelously in every way. As for Paltrow, if talent were possessed of speed, light itself would lag behind her. She gave breathtaking performances as Lady Viola and Thomas Kent in Shakespeare in Love, and she got only one Oscar for it? What was the Academy thinking?
Alan B. Posner, ROYAL OAK, MICH., U.S.
To the list of Oscar's missteps, I would add Gentlemen's Agreement over Great Expectations in 1947, Charlton Heston (Ben Hur) over James Stewart (Anatomy of a Murder) in 1959 and Elizabeth Taylor (Butterfield 8) over Deborah Kerr (The Sundowners) in 1960. At or near the top of the list of missing nominations, I would place both Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant (His Girl Friday) in 1940.
Paul J. Corigliano, SAN MARCOS, CALIF., U.S.
Every show, award or list will have its doubters. The Oscars have made many goofs, but often, subsequent adulation vindicates such overlooked nominees. After receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, Charlie Chaplin got one of the longest standing ovations in Oscar history. I don't think he would have exchanged that for a competitive Oscar he missed out on during his career.
Anurag Chatrath, EDINBURGH
The Surge's Shaky Success
To say the Surge is working is akin to saying we found WMD in Iraq and New Orleans has been rebuilt [Feb. 11]. The measure of success for the surge was to have been progress in passing legislation in Iraq. Despite the expenditure of billions of dollars and the lost lives of more than 900 brave soldiers and countless Iraqi citizens, very little has been accomplished on the political front. In a few months, we may have the same number of troops stationed in Iraq as before the surge and still have to decide if we want to follow the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.
Larry Nicholl, NAUVOO, ILL., U.S.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on a study that concluded that alcohol and exercise may help your heart [Feb. 11]. Among other things, it found that those of us who exercise and don't drink alcohol are no better off than couch potatoes who drink moderately. This does not pass the smell test. I'm 61 years old, have exercised since high school and just don't like the taste of alcohol. I can probably outwalk drinking nonexercisers half my age, including those researchers.
Danny Bernstein, ASHEVILLE, N.C., U.S.
I'm astounded Gupta recommended that people at risk for breast cancer or alcoholism "should pass on the pint and order soda." Soda?! Since when is soda a healthful option? In a day and age when herb-infused and antioxidant-laden beverages abound, couldn't he have recommended something other than carbonated high-fructose corn syrup?
Helena Chen, ALISO VIEJO, CALIF., U.S.
Thousands of years ago, doctors used alcohol in prescriptions for everything from chronic cough to anxiety. But modern medicine discovered that alcohol is responsible for at least 12 different major ailments, from gastrointestinal bleeding to brain damage. Besides, 30% of long-term users also become alcohol dependent.
Edward H. Jeon, M.D., WEST HILLS, CALIF., U.S.
An Under-30 Uprising
I love the attention you have been giving young voters in this year's election process [Feb. 11], but David Von Drehle's article basically credited Obama and Facebook with getting young voters interested again. Although they have helped in organizing the masses, they are not the reason we care. We know the importance of a healthy economy because we are starting worldwide companies (Facebook, YouTube). We feel the importance of foreign relations because we are serving overseas, staring the enemy in the eye. And we understand the magnitude of global warming because we are the ones who will be here when the ice caps melt. Young people today are more complex, more intelligent, better equipped to adapt to change and more understanding of the benefits of everything from technology to diversity. Look at the faces on the cover. Each one says, "Yeah, I may be young, but I know what I'm doing and where I'm going. Do you?" The candidate who wins our vote is the candidate who can answer that.
Adam Gangelhoff, RAPID CITY, S.D., U.S.