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'Reagan's Just an Old Softie'

December 06, 1986

Is Tom Bethell's article (Editorial Pages, Nov. 28), "Reagan's Just an Old Softie," the reactionary right's new party line? If so, then Bethell and the other planners at the Hoover Institution, the conservative "think" tank, had better review Reagan's record of compassion.

He has slashed social welfare programs to the bloody bone, leaving this richest of all nations with 10 million hungry people and a drifting population of homeless, many of who freeze to death without a word of sympathy from the "Old Softie."

The poor have no recourse to our much acclaimed "justice for all" since Reagan's budget-slashing reduced the function of legal aid services to one of minimal assistance in only the most urgent cases.

Has he shown compassion to small farmers forced into bankruptcy and, in some cases, suicide? Has he even mentioned the thousands of deaths directly attributable to removing 273,000 people from the Medicaid rolls in one year alone?

As president of the Ventura County American Civil Liberties Union, I deal with victims of the "Old Softie" daily.

Add to the domestic victims our loyal young Marines slaughtered in Lebanon through his poor planning, and the civilian Muslims shelled by a battleship on his direct order, the innocent mental patients killed in a Grenada air strike, the civilian Nicaraguans murdered by his mercenary contra army, and so many more casualties of his myopic foreign and domestic programs, and this man's utter lack of compassion shows through the thin veneer of superficial smiles and cute jokes.

It is clear to anyone not blinded by the Great Communicator's acting ability that the entire Iranian arms deal was an illegal, compassionless, political ploy that went sour. The recent Iranian rocket attack on Iraqi civilians is just another incident to add to the "Old Softie's" record of compassion. After all, the rockets were just part of the "defense weapons" in Reagan's Iranian deal.

ART BEDARD

Thousand Oaks

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