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Philandering politicians; a stony-hearted America; and Orange County's Great Park

May 28, 2011
  • Coming clean: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently admitted he fathered a child with his former housekeeper.
Coming clean: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently admitted he…

Courting more than the vote

Re "What makes them stray?" Opinion, May 22

Frank Farley focuses on sexual philandering by prominent politicians. While defining a "Type T personality" profile that fits these individuals, he tries to answer this question: "So why do we keep electing such people?"

If, as Farley says, people admire their charisma and risk-taking behavior but often overlook their infidelities and narcissism, are we to accept his characterization of the United States "to some extent as a Type T nation, tilting in the risk-taking direction"?

Farley doesn't go far enough with his questions. Here's another question: What are the likely consequences when we elect individuals who take selfish risks while hiding behind rhetoric touting patriotism and platitudes expressing high ideals?

Put another way, what happens when we elect cheaters and liars to public office? There are ample precedents. I can almost hear the warning: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Chuck Hackwith

San Clemente

Farley raises two questions, the first one being if there are gender differences when it comes to marriage infidelity for the rich and powerful. It appears that women find themselves more attracted to men they consider their intellectual equal or superior, which makes an association such as Clinton-Lewinsky less likely for them.

Powerful women also must consider their traditional family role. While a powerful man's neglect of his family is more often overlooked, a woman must effectively deal with the demands of her career and family.

The second question deals with people's ability to forgive the indiscretions of their once-heroes. The answer has much to do with the consequences of their behavior. For example, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's was much easier to forgive than John Edwards' because, in the end, the former has managed to maintain the status quo in the home front.

Berta Graciano-Buchman

Beverly Hills

America's moral clarity

Re "America the stony-hearted," Opinion, May 22

Neal Gabler claims that this country's moral values have changed from the good old days of the New Deal to a less moral and more tough-minded conservative self-interest.

Those good old days included the Dixiecrats, those Southern Democrats who legislated and enforced segregation laws. Gabler also missed anti-homosexual laws, anti-miscegenation laws, anti-Semitic zoning restrictions and antiabortion laws.

I was alive during those tenderhearted days, and I remember when you couldn't sell your house in many areas of L.A. to an African American, Jew or Mexican. You couldn't get a legal abortion. I remember when black men couldn't get into skilled craft unions or get jobs as engineers.

I am not opposed to America being a more just, nobler nation. But to pretend that it used to be so is a fantasy.

Dallas Weaver

Huntington Beach

I reject Gabler's premise that there is a moral revolution happening; moral clarity is more accurate.

Person A taking money from Person B, using the threat of imprisonment, and giving it to Person C does not make Person A compassionate.

To Gabler, this is what constitutes "good works."

Generally, conservatives believe decent people can disagree on social policy. For men like Gabler, conservatives are stony-hearted. Against racial preferences or bilingual education? Racist. Against higher taxes? Selfish.

Why so incurious? Gabler doesn't mention the mountains of evidence that prove that many of the "social disasters" he laments were aggravated by policies he supports.

Richard Palmer

Newport Beach

Gabler captures how the right has lost its compassion. The striking difference of late seems to be the unabashed forthrightness with which conservatives launch their attacks, whether on healthcare, environmental laws or workers' benefits. Protecting selfish interests (their own pocketbooks) seems to be the main reason, but there's a disturbing undercurrent that tells me it's more about protecting arbitrary class distinctions (I have, you don't).

But this is not a zero-sum game. In a "liberal" society, the ideal is that all Americans are healthy, educated and well paid. Everyone benefits,

including the right. By denying the community this ideal, they actually deny themselves.

Gloria D. Sefton

Trabuco Canyon

Gabler accuses conservatives of having abandoned the virtues of compassion, tolerance and caring over the last 30 years. The presupposition is that the "right" has moved further to the right, while the left has maintained these values.

But how would he explain the fact that like so many others, I voted the Democratic ticket for 30 or more years before finally giving it up and switching sides? Did we become stony-hearted? Or did we perceive that the Democrats had gone so far to the left that there would no longer have been a place for such icons as Harry Truman or JFK?

Compassion does not reveal itself in failed social experiments that are massively funded to the detriment of those they should help.

W.A. Sauvageot


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