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Our reporting on the Republicans’ loss of the U.S. Congress examined what the triumph of moderates and pragmatists will mean for the country’s policies. Many readers were eager to bid good riddance to scandals and a faltering war strategy, while others remained wary or skeptical of any bipartisan gain

Re “Reaching for the Center” [Nov. 20]: The American people used the power of the vote to boot the corrupt, ideologically blinkered, full-of-themselves Republicans out of their congressional majorities. Our Founding Fathers were skeptical of the notion that seemingly virtuous politicians would always govern wisely. The founders knew from historical experience that even the most righteous can succumb to the temptations that power brings.
Troy Lee Zukowski
Portage, Michigan, U.S.

The election results must have been an accountability moment for the President, even though his sense of accountability is momentary at best.
Jim Gallagher
Petaluma, California, U.S.

The election did not bring an overwhelming number of Democrats into the House, and they hold only a one-vote majority in the Senate, so it was not “a robust whupping,” as Joe Klein so poignantly declared. Democrats should celebrate while they can, since I trust that those who should rightfully govern this country will be back soon.
Jean Sember
Hawthorne, New Jersey, U.S.

The Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate, but with slim margins. From a historical perspective, the Republicans are still in pretty good shape. A single election should not make Republicans too downcast or Democrats too gleeful.
Cloyd Gatrell
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S.

The Republican-led congress has acted like a latter-day Emperor Nero, fiddling with the issues of same-sex marriage, abortion and flag burning while the Middle East is a conflagration, the global climate overheats and our health-care system crashes and burns. The slim majority that the Democrats have in both houses of Congress as a result of the midterm elections is not a mandate but a challenge to both major parties to work cooperatively to solve the nation’s foreign and domestic problems.
Kirk D. Gulden
Wilkesboro, North Carolina, U.S.

I believe the midterm elections may finally swing the pendulum back from President Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution. But it took the needlessly spilled blood of too many young Americans to do it. Tragically, Reagan’s “Morning in America” has become mourning in America.
Russell Kussman
Los Angeles

Klein quoted a senior administration official who referred to the failure of Bush’s Iraq policy as “a Mick Jagger moment … You can’t always get what you want.” Now we will find out if the President recognizes that he has to abandon his six-year Under My Thumb approach to dealing with Congress.
Jay P. Maille
Pleasanton, California, U.S.

Covering the Results
I was flabbergasted that your cover in the wake of the Democratic election triumph was a Venn diagram with the headline “Why the Center Is the New Place to Be” [Nov. 20]. Huh? The Democrats kicked butt. You should have put Howard Dean on the cover. It was his 50-state strategy, along with the great fund-raising work of Congressman Rahm Emanuel and Senator Chuck Schumer, and a whole bunch of great candidates with grass-roots support, that won the election.
Ruth Adkins
Portland, Oregon, U.S.

Twelve years ago, when the G.O.P. took control of the Congress, the cover of TIME heralded the “G.O.P. Stampede.” Now, when the stampede is by the Democrats, what does the cover say about it? There was nary a mention of the Democrats’ historic victory or the Republicans’ brutal thrashing, just the headline “Why the Center Is the New Place to Be.” But the American people did not move to the political center; they strongly repudiated the hard right.
James K. Power
North Bergen, New Jersey, U.S.

After receiving yet another magazine cover with a white background, I have to say, How boring. Half the fun of getting the magazine is guessing what will be on the cover and then seeing what TIME has chosen. I understand the red and blue Venn diagram, but it looks terrible on my coffee table. I hope the Person of the Year cover will not be an abstract artist’s caricature of somebody on a white background. If I want to see that kind of art, I’ll go to a museum.
Karen Walters
Paradise, California, U.S.

Postelection Pivoting
“Searching for a Strategy” [Nov. 20] reported that some Republicans are afraid “the White House is about to abandon the neoconservative project to bring democracy to the Middle East.” But what right does the President have to decide which system other countries should live under? Democracy has to be desired, demanded and understood by the people. Look at the histories of prominent democracies; most involve civil wars, revolutions or painful, bloody transitions. In Iraq the concept of democracy is strange and new, so it is inevitable that democratization will be a long, drawn-out process with many pitfalls along the way, with no guarantee that democracy will develop. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
Andrew Hailstone

The U.S. midterm-election results signaled that Americans want a change in U.S. foreign policy. President Bush made a start by replacing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The President should have followed that by removing John Bolton from his post as U.N. ambassador. Bush also ought to re-evaluate U.S. foreign policy toward Israel. How can the Bush Administration claim to be waging a war on terrorism when the U.S. supports the Israeli government’s actions in the Palestinian territories and actively blocks any attempt by the U.N. to thwart them?
Rory Morty
Giessen, Germany

The Iraqi people have squandered their liberation from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Religious fanaticism, political and tribal animosities and irrational anti-Western sentiments have created a crisis of national self-destruction. To reduce the regional prejudice against Western culture, a large scholarship program for young Muslims (not only from Iraq), with stays of two to four years in the U.S. and European countries, should be launched. I remember gratefully the liberation of Germany at the end of World War II and the subsequent favorable social, cultural and economic development.
Gerhard Fritsch
Nuremberg, Germany

The Ideal Idealists
Re Walter Isaacson’s “The Return of the Realists” [Nov. 20]: I am sure the neoconservatives would like the American people to believe that they led us into Iraq because they are altruistic and idealistic lovers of democracy, and not because they were trying to secure Iraq’s considerable oil supplies for our continuing fossil-fuel gluttony. They appear to have persuaded Isaacson, however, because his column did not even mention the subject of Iraq’s oil. Nevertheless, they will have a harder time convincing many other Americans.
Cary Dictor
San Leandro, California, U.S.

I disagree with Isaacson’s argument that idealism needs to be tempered with realism. Idealists do not lie. They are so convinced of the righteousness of their position that deception is not an option. They hold the moral high ground in policy debates and do not create false impressions, like the current President. Idealists promoting democracy would never trample on civil liberties or imprison people without recourse to due process of law.
Jeff T. Barrie
Philomath, Oregon, U.S.

Without Apology
Columnist Michael Kinsley argued that the neoconservative policy hawks should apologize for getting the U.S. into the Iraq war [Nov. 20]. I, however, have no intention of apologizing for supporting the war. While it has not gone well by any measure, the need for it was and still is the same. Saddam Hussein was a violent despot who engaged in genocide. He previously waged an unprovoked war. If Saddam were in power today, how would he respond to the development of high-grade nuclear materials by Iran? How did diplomacy affect Nazi Germany, North Korea, Iraq and Iran? Do not blame American conservatives for the failures in Iran and North Korea. Blame the entire world. It will be 50 or 100 years before we know the real effect of our efforts in the Middle East.
Mike Powers
Hiram, Georgia, U.S.

I was bemused by Kinsley’s wish for an apology from Washington’s neocons. I feel it’s enough that the country has spoken in the midterm elections and demanded a change in dialogue and, I hope, direction from our political élite in Washington. To expect the neocons to grovel is a bit much.
Russ Smith
Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, U.S.

A New Brand of Bond
Re “Um, Is that You, Bond?” [Nov. 20]: Daniel Craig, the latest actor to portray James Bond, reminds me of Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. His muscular torso goes with a T shirt and jeans more than a Brioni suit, an Omega watch and an Aston Martin. From your article, I understood how the movie industry’s obsession with the hyperkinetic brutality of action films is choking the sophisticated elegance of 007. Isn’t there any way to make more room for cultural diversity in Hollywood?
Hiroaki Goda
Kasuga, Japan

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