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Lerner on Clinton

November 11, 1994

Michael Lerner, Hillary's "guru" on the "politics of meaning," opines that President Clinton will be in serious trouble for the next two years unless he can "reconstitute a serious campaign for a politics of meaning" (Commentary, Nov. 7). Lerner's definition of the "politics of meaning" shows that Clinton's embrace of this ludicrous suggestion would not only be futile; it would be suicidal.

According to Lerner, President Reagan "legitimated an ethos of selfishness" which continues today as the polar opposite of the "politics of meaning." And how does this Reagan "ethos of selfishness" manifest itself? It does so, according to Lerner, by "people's desires for lower taxes and less government." Therefore, Lerner implies that if people would only desire higher taxes and more government, they would be following "a new communitarian ethos," which forms the backbone of this "politics of meaning."

I doubt that President Clinton is likely to leap on Lerner's suggestion, especially after the election results. What looks like "politics of meaning" and "idealism" to Lerner looks to most people like the shopworn liberal approach which the electorate has roundly rejected. Voters much prefer the lower taxes/less government approach of the Reagan years to the higher taxes/more government approach underlying Lerner's "politics of meaning."

DONALD A. KAUL

Laguna Beach

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Lerner is what I call "unclear on the concept." Idealism is just that; it is not realism, which is where we, the American people, live and work.

Reality is as follows: In the world we have the most powerful economy, the best health care system, the best educational system, the finest military, etc. We can enjoy these achievements, because we, as a people, are grounded in a concept called economic realism. Economic realism ensures that each American is able to exercise certain inalienable rights, namely, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Reality also consists of problems. Many of these problems, Mr. Lerner, have resulted from our government's attempt to build the "house of cards" that you idealize: a full-service government. And what has your idealism left us with? The answer is painfully clear: restrictions on our rights, runaway annual deficits, an enormous national debt, government subsidies that degrade the individual, and many other less-than-admirable qualities.

If you doubt whether the American people want your idealism, review Tuesday's election results. We no longer put our faith in a government that has "lost touch" with the concept of economic realism. We don't want or need a full-service government financed at the expense of every American. That's reality.

KURT D. NAEGELE

Newbury Park

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Robert Wright's " . . . and What's More, He Won't Confront His Cynical Inner Child" (Commentary, Nov. 7) is an inspirational waste of ink.

Twenty-one months into an Administration which has proven to cognizant Americans that whomever was pulling Reagan's and Bush's strings was simultaneously jerking us all around, we see an opposition which is pitifully low in ammunition. Wright's self-help psychobabble is solid evidence for this case.

Face it, fellas, if Gennifer, Paula, the dead attorney, Whitewater and everything but the kitchen sink couldn't do it, neither can grade-school journalistic smear campaigns.

G. FRED LOGAN

Laguna Niguel

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How come it takes that liberal Clinton to make good on candidate Reagan's campaign pledge to lower the deficit?

MADISON WELLS

Hollywood

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Do we really need a full-time chief executive in the White House? Judging by President Clinton's absence from the Oval Office these past couple of weeks, and the nature of his activities, maybe not. First, he spends several days aboard Air Force One on what was largely a PR junket in the Mideast to enhance his approval rating with voters here at home . . . and then he spends the following week or so, also aboard Air Force One, crisscrossing the country campaigning for Democratic candidates in trouble with the electorate in their districts.

At the very least it would seem only fair that his salary for that time, and the rather considerable cost of flying Air Force One so many miles, should be charged to the Democratic Party.

ROBERT D. NELSON

Lake San Marcos

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In World War II, Americans defended our ideals by fighting fascism, the party of hatred that masqueraded as conservatism.

Today, hate-driven "conservatism" is destroying those same American ideals.

Who won that war, anyway?

DONALD E. WATSON

Santa Ana

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