I'll admit that readers of The Times' letters page lately might get the impression that what they're getting is an obituary for the Republican Party.
In Tuesday's paper, for example, five letters mention the government shutdown -- and all five have harsh words for Republicans. One reader blames the entire stalemate in Washington on House Republicans' inability to see past the fact that President Obama is a Democrat; another expresses gratitude that the tea party wasn't around in 1955, when it would have called for shutting down Disneyland because the park had an infamously glitch-filled opening day.
Understandably, this balance of opinion doesn't sit well with some of our conservative readers.
On Tuesday, Mary Anne Cogbill of San Marino sent us this complaint:
"I am amazed that not one person wrote a pro-Republican or pro-tea party letter on the government fiscal mess. I always thought a newspaper was supposed to publish both sides of a view. How sad to have the L.A. Times be so unfair!"
Similarly, Chino Hills resident Lillian Brock wrote:
"For two weeks now this publication has printed letters primarily from the Democrat point of view concerning the government shutdown. I have decided to rename your paper the Left Angeles Times."
Brock and Cogbill are right about one thing: Almost all of the letters we've printed since the partial government shutdown haven't exactly been pro-GOP. But there's an explanation for that, likely one that won't satisfy many of our conservative readers: We simply aren't receiving very many printable submissions that take the side of Republicans.
In fact, since Monday, of the nearly 30 usable letters we've received on the shutdown, just three have taken the Republicans' side -- and two are the complaints above. Only one -- from Steve Shafer of Los Angeles -- has actually said anything about the stalemate in Washington (but he did land a partisan punch on The Times):
"Doesn't anyone understand that these Republicans have been elected also by people and have every right to represent them? This is the worst president in history. Someone has to check him. He was elected and also has the right to represent the people. People like me must also have their say.
"The only reason that I take The Times is for the sports and the Sunday coupons. I do however consider it a left-wing rag.
"Print this. I dare you."
The preponderance of letters, however, are like the ones below and in Tuesday’s paper. Most don't necessarily praise the Democrats, but nearly all blame the Republicans in Congress for the shutdown. They're not out of line with the broader public opinion on this issue.
Here are some of those letters.
Frederic G. Dunn of San Diego tells a parable:
"Once upon a time, during a severe rainstorm, four men shared an umbrella. One man was a fiscal conservative, one was a religious conservative, one favored small government, and one claimed to favor all three positions and swore by God that he would do anything to further them, even shut down the government.
"The umbrella was named GOP, and that fourth man went by T. Party. He claimed a greater share of the umbrella. He did so in a loud and threatening way, and succeeded in obtaining a greater share of the umbrella than he was fairly due.
"Because of this the other three men were rained upon, caught colds and were too sick to vote in the next election. Consequently, their party lost that election.
"Moral: [this space intentionally left blank to encourage audience participation]."
Robert Eril Levine says the GOP doesn’t need Democrats to shame them:
"Democrats -- and I'm one of them -- should resist the temptation to 'humiliate' the GOP, although it's an odd plea from a political party that has sought any and every possible way to humiliate the president.
"Fair-minded Democrats will resist the temptation, of course. No Democrat could possibly do anything to humiliate the GOP more thoroughly than Republicans have already done themselves."
Cathy Dowling of Spring Valley, Calif., is more magnanimous:
"I would certainly agree that the Democrats must take the high road, move past revenge (a new thought, perhaps?) and work with the Republicans to get our government working again now and into the future. I say this in all sincerity even though the Republicans have brought this calamity on themselves.
"It's now up to our leaders to set a new tone in Congress and above all not allow the small group of extremists from either party to set the tone that serves no one but their own agenda. Our leaders have proven to the nation that rancor, lack of integrity, disrespect and retribution can only lead to more of the same.
"We all try to lead our lives with honesty, respect and intelligence, and we need to demand the same from our leadership."