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Leadership vs. Loyalty

9 minute read

What a brilliant piece Michael Duffy wrote on Rudolph Giuliani and his loyalty to Bernard Kerik [Nov. 26]. Duffy’s snapshot provided one of the most concise and intriguing portraits of a political animal that I have ever read. He truly captured Giuliani through the prism of his relationship with Kerik, possibly his closest ally. And the statement made by an operative from a rival campaign on Rudy’s pitch — “I’m not a nice guy. But the people you fear, fear me” — was so articulate a description it gave me pause.
Carl A. Hulbert, BELLINGHAM, WASH., U.S.

Duffy gave a thumbnail sketch of Kerik’s unpleasant youth and more recent adventures and skewed them into vague and shadowy misadventures, thus trivializing the man’s merits and suggesting that what he ultimately did for his city and country was insignificant and self-serving. Recounting Kerik’s rites of passage and twisting them into meat for conspiracy theories is petty and niggling. The intent to mask the story as a critical essay on loyalty — well, it just didn’t make the stretch. Continuing to rip Kerik through Giuliani and Giuliani through Kerik is a trite and wearisome pastime, isn’t it?
Chris McLoughlin, ATLANTA

So the moralizing Pat Robertson has endorsed moral family man Rudolph Giuliani. It’s a match made in heaven. Giuliani’s supposed family values are questionable, not just because of his three marriages, and not just because second wife Donna Hanover only learned she was being dumped from a televised press conference Rudy was giving. While Hanover and their kids were still living at Gracie Mansion, he asked Judith Nathan, his mistress at the time, to move in with them. A judge finally had to intervene and bar Nathan from the place. Despite the indecent manner in which Giuliani treated his family, the professional moralists in the Republican Party — like Robertson — will vote for him.
Arlene Philomena, NEW YORK CITY

The Bhutto Deal Goes Bust
In shutting down private TV channels and detaining opposition political leaders and protesting lawyers, the dictatorial President Pervez Musharraf has purged the basic human rights of a civilized society [Nov. 26]. His bloodless coup that overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999 was welcomed by many citizens, but now the general has lost support. There is dissatisfaction among the masses because of Musharraf’s actions, especially his ouster of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. In desperately trying to hold on to power, Musharraf is making a joke of democracy. Democracy is not about installing a puppet parliament by forming an alliance with a popular political party; it has to do with having sound institutions and freedom of expression. Musharraf has set Pakistan back many years and undone the past eight years of his rule. Sadly, he was the one who claimed he was liberating Pakistan from the shackles of backwardness.
Syed Arif Rehman, KARACHI

Twice elected and twice disgraced, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned from self-imposed exile and was in cahoots with Musharraf in hopes of again becoming Prime Minister. Musharraf even agreed to drop corruption charges against her. But the plan has backfired, and Bhutto is now deriding Musharraf and proclaiming slogans of democracy. The opportunistic Benazir Bhutto doesn’t care one hoot about Pakistan. She is only hungry for power.

You pointed out that since Pakistan is a key ally in the fight against terrorism, the Bush Administration deems the regime worthy of continued funding despite Musharraf’s unconstitutional actions. This reminds me of how the U.S. backed South American dictators in the name of preventing the spread of communism. Allowing democracy to be so egregiously revoked does not bode well for U.S. policies in the region, and it is only a matter of time before this current ally withers from lack of popular support. Defeating communism required the cooperation of governments; defeating terrorism will require the cooperation of people.
Jitesh Laxman, TORONTO

Eulogy from a Colleague
Thanks for acknowledging the career of comic Marilyn Martinez [Nov. 26]. She was embraced by the Latino/Latina comedy community, and thank goodness for that. But before she made her way to Los Angeles, she was based in Denver, where she was widely accepted by women and by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. I was her comedy partner from 1977 to 1980. Marilyn got laughs for some raunchy material but was also political and avant-garde. We played throughout the U.S., and I’m glad to know that her work with me supported her subsequent solo success. Many people of every hue and stripe will miss Marilyn. For all her tough talk, she was one of the sweetest people in the business.
Judith Blair, BOULDER, COLO., U.S.

Bolton’s Strategy
I was dumbstruck by the incongruity of former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s replies to readers’ questions [Nov. 26]. Since he has been our emissary to the world, I would expect him to be an intelligent and capable man. But his comments were like those of an actor promoting his new movie (of course, he’s promoting his new book). It is inconceivable that a diplomat would believe the simplistic and readily disprovable worldviews he expressed. On the other hand, such opinions will sell books, presumably to Bolton’s financial and political gain. My spirits are raised only by the possibility that peacemakers may one day receive their due rewards.
Michael Bush, PORT ORANGE, FLA., U.S.

Bolton said if the U.S. were ever to use military force against Iran, the nation would “need to make it clear to the people of Iran that this is not aimed against them.” Does he suggest sending that message before Iranian people are maimed and killed — or after?
Neil McKenty, MONTREAL

Dynamic Duo
I like the Clintons [Nov. 19]. why not a female President this time? I was in the U.S. when Bill Clinton was elected President. Now, if Hillary Clinton is elected, I hope she will pursue the health-care program her husband was involved with. Thousands are destitute in the land of plenty, and this should no longer be tolerated if the U.S. is determined to be an exemplary society for the rest of the world. As a pragmatic liberal, Clinton can get the U.S. on the right track, as certainly as it has become derailed under President George W. Bush. She is the right woman and the visionary leader the U.S. needs today.
Dan Chellumben, AMBOISE, FRANCE

Clinton’s credentials are far superior to those of anyone else in the pack. I consider her the U.S.’s best female public figure since Eleanor Roosevelt. If she does not win her party’s nomination, it will be a clear sign to the world that women’s equality is another cause America preaches but does not practice.
David L. Enderle, FREEBURG, ILL., U.S.

I have been following the U.S. presidential campaign with great interest. Would it not be apt to refer to Hillary and Bill’s efforts as the “Hillbilly” campaign?
Rihann Koekemoer, JOHANNESBURG

Like a Vice Tax
David von Drehle summarized it well in “Oil’s Silver Lining” [Nov. 19]: The $100 barrel gives us another chance to change our ways. It’s a true gift to the planet from the present economic circumstances. And rest assured, prices are not likely to drop. How could they, since worldwide discovery of oil peaked in 1964? In China and India, hundreds of millions of households dream of getting a car or even two. Let’s hope the exponential rise of oil prices will guide us all toward greener aspirations that will encourage the production of a less polluting alternative to cars. Otherwise one planet will not be enough.
Nicolas Morin, PARIS

A Web of Faux Friends?
I hope Joel Stein doesn’t believe that the 50 million Facebook members are the superficial, dull, self-centered people he described, or else I would feel a bit offended [Nov. 19]. Although I use the website, I don’t finish all my sentences with 10 exclamation points, and I still appreciate a good dinner with wine. Many Facebook members don’t attach importance to popularity but just want to entertain themselves. They have enough personality to know they are not losers if their contact list doesn’t beat all the records. MySpace and Facebook are part of a humanizing revolution of communication in a society that has already lost its traditional sense of community.
Chloé Marquet, PARIS

While reading “You are not my friend” I nodded in agreement, suddenly feeling like Stein and I were having a dialogue instead of one-way conversation. I too have blindly signed up with numerous social networks, resulting in an inbox blizzard of far-out birthday reminders and cyperbased karate kicks from friends of my friends. It’s time to wake up and realize that you can’t make real friends online. One can argue that services like Zyb and Twitter let you do just that, since most of our real friends and family are stored on our mobile phones, but the point is that the people who matter most to you are not the ones on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo or any other online universe. The ones who matter most are the ones you meet and greet, hug and talk to out there in real life.
Anton Greiffenberg, COPENHAGEN

Real-Life Enemies
As an Argentine, I am very proud of Moreno-Ocampo [Nov. 12]. I want to congratulate him for getting so far in his career and working so hard to bring justice to Darfur. I recognized him right away when I saw his picture in this article, and I wish him very good luck.
Elina Salvarregui, NASHVILLE

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