Battling Election-Day Glitches
Michael Scherer's article is full of good information and good reporting [Nov. 3]. In the future, perhaps it would be useful to do a companion article on what steps are being taken by states, counties, political campaigns and independent groups to mitigate some of these potential problems. That ought to include information on what a voter can do on the spot when a problem is encountered at a polling place. Are there officials who can be contacted in case of a problem? Are there people from each campaign standing by ready to help?
Santa Fe, N.M.
As a Barack Obama supporter, I was excited that Joe Klein had an interview with Obama [Nov. 3]. I felt that a serious turn in reporting was exactly what the country needed. However, the interview itself was disappointing. Klein refers almost apologetically to an earlier interview in which Obama "grew a bit testy when I pushed him on the need for universal health insurance and a more aggressive global-warming policy." Instead of continuing to push, Klein came off as merely pulling the Obama wagon toward the presidential finish line. Please, Mr. Klein, we finally have in Obama the grownup we've been missing for the past eight years. Question him like one! My stomach simply can't take being force-fed any more leadership that is, shall we say, half-baked.
New Haven, Conn.
You had an "exclusive" interview with Obama, yet you missed the opportunity to elicit some answers from the Democratic candidate. For that, Klein might have had to bring up any one of dozens of serious policy, experience and belief questions that might not serve the campaign's narrative. It is indeed sad that the first time Obama is likely to actually feel any grilling is in the boiler room of the Oval Office.
Jeffrey C. Kastelic,
Cranberry Township, Pa.
PETA, Pets and Politics
Thanks for your "10 Questions with Ingrid Newkirk," co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) [Nov. 3]. When the future of the economy and politics is as uncertain as it is these days, it's refreshing to get Newkirk's reminder that the important thing in life is to do good, help others and be kind to all animals not just the cute ones.
The 10 questions put to Newkirk truly inspired me. I called over my two French poodles, patted and hugged them and left the house to have a Black Angus cheeseburger combo with fries. While I enjoyed eating the delicious burger, I contemplated how some people feel empowered enough to step out and try to force their opinions and beliefs on others as if they were gospel.
Jonathan B. Smith,
The Obama Effect
The media make much ado about the so-called Bradley effect [Nov. 3]. And it doesn't take a genius to see that John McCain and Sarah Palin have counted on this racial motivation to help them overcome the consequences of their poorly run campaign. But we must now factor in an even more potent quotient: the Obama effect that quality whereby the more you get to know a politician, the more you like and trust him or her. This likability and perceived trustworthiness continue to grow over time. Across the board, Obama's ratings have steadily increased with key groups that had been cool toward him before. Likewise, regarding key questions like, Whom do you trust to improve the economy, be Commander in Chief, handle taxes or handle the housing crisis? Obama leads McCain in recent polls. Obama endures. He grows on you. He has time on his side. In future elections, politicians will have to factor in the Obama effect.
Re Mike Murphy's "Here Be Monsters" [Nov. 3]: To compare the ACORN incident, in which a few paid workers filled out bogus voter registrations (which were detected, reported and purged by ACORN) for financial gain, with the massive and well-documented efforts by the GOP to suppress and steal votes is beyond biased. Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 were called Democratic on the basis of exit polls before mysteriously ending up on the GOP side, costing the Democrats both elections. In the two cases, state officials at the helm of the electoral process were GOP loyalists, intimately involved in the presidential campaigns. With a dismal ethics record and an ideologically rationalized "end justifies the means" worldview, is there any doubt that an increasingly desperate Republican Party will continue to resort to what has worked in the past?
Murphy correctly points out the many polarizing fears that motivate the directions and tactics of each major party's campaign. I would like to think that all the unethical conduct is only a mutual and relatively equal reaction to the other's bias. Yet an objective tally proves otherwise. Obama's mistakes have been mainly exaggerations and minor factual errors. He has also used some sound bites and headlines that may offer misconceptions about McCain's motives and ideas. However, when it comes to innuendo, unethical half-truths, character assassination and, yes, plain miserable, rotten lies I would give McCain the prize. It is obvious that he has veered hopelessly away from ethical conduct and is no longer the man he claims to be. There is no real relative equality in his departure from civility.
Peter A. Johnson,