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The scandal is in the comparison

January 23, 2007

Re "Bush's fourth quarter," editorial, Jan. 21

Your editorial contains some remarkable comments. You write that President Bush "believes (rightly, in our view) that it would be disastrous for the United States to walk blithely away from the mess it created." I have not heard or read in any of the many proposals for withdrawing from this atrocious war even a hint of what could be characterized as blitheness. Your diction constitutes a patently tendentious attempt to manufacture a nonexistent, callous "straw man" in order to buttress your support for Bush's intransigence.

You also write: "At least he's not spending his days forced to deny having sex with 'that woman.' " The clear implication is that your sensibilities are more offended by Bill Clinton's isolated sexual peccadillo than by the unnecessary death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Iraqis.

FRANKLIN STRIER

Rolling Hills Estates

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I disagree with you that it would be disastrous for the United States to walk away from the mess it created in Iraq. It is by no means certain that if we leave, Iraq will fall into chaos and that war will erupt throughout the region, as predicted by alarmists. Even if the worst-case situation occurred after our withdrawal, the disaster for the U.S. would be less than what we are currently enduring. And there is no assurance that by staying in Iraq and sacrificing more lives and wealth, we will somehow stabilize the country.

Everyone advocating a continued U.S. presence in Iraq, including the president, concedes that the success of our mission in Iraq is questionable. The predicted disaster for the U.S. if we withdraw is even more questionable. The only sensible option is for the U.S. to withdraw immediately.

SYLVAN GOLLIN

Claremont

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In your otherwise excellent editorial, I was struck by your list of second-term presidential scandals: Bush with his deceitful war in Iraq, Richard Nixon with Watergate, Ronald Reagan with Iran-Contra and Clinton with the Monica Lewinsky affair. While the first three are genuine crises of leadership, the last was a personal peccadillo blown out of proportion by congressional Republicans as an excuse to impeach a Democratic president. Given Clinton's considerable accomplishments as president -- broadening prosperity, eliminating the deficit, a wise foreign policy -- the Lewinsky scandal pales in comparison to Iraq, Watergate and Iran-Contra.

How you can lump Clinton's petty second-term problem with the more serious ones of his Republican colleagues is beyond me.

ROBERT PAYNE

Studio City

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