The Baltimore Sun

Is sexism the cause of Clinton's woes?

Lynette Long sounds like an unabashed feminist. And I say more power to her ("Painful lessons," Commentary, May 18).

In fact, I would add two more points to her list of difficult hurdles women candidates face:

* When female candidates are critical of their opponent, they are described as "shrill" or some other derogatory term, while male candidates are given credit for holding opposing views.

* In Sen. Hilary Clinton's case, she is often called by her first name, while neither Sen. John McCain nor Sen. Barack Obama is often referred to as "John" or "Barack."

Ms. Long is correct that campaigning remains more difficult for women. But the only way to overcome that is for so many to run for office that female candidates become commonplace.

Bert Booth, Towson

Lynette Long's column "Painful lessons" notes that most young white voters voted for Mr. Obama, as did most young black voters.

She suggests that this is because young white voters are more open to voting for a black man than young black voters are open to voting for a white person.

Setting aside the racist implications of this assertion, Ms. Long fails to acknowledge a basic facet of this campaign - and this is odd, considering how widely remarked it has been that young voters in general seem to prefer Mr. Obama because he represents (or at least seems to represent) something other than the stale politics of the baby boomers that the Clintons represent.

My young peers and I are sick of the pandering to our nation's basest inclinations represented by Sen. Hillary Clinton, especially the increasingly racially tinged rhetoric from her camp.

Mr. Obama may or may not deliver on his themes of change and hope. But I, for one, am willing to give him the chance to do so.

Grant Hamming, College Park

Kudos to Lynette Long for her insightful column "Painful lessons."

As a man stunned by the disrespectful coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton I have been seeing since January, I was glad to see my own sentiments about the very biased and unremittingly sexist media coverage of the Democratic race by some commentators at MSNBC and CNN in particular validated in Ms. Long's remarks.

Had they treated Sen. Barack Obama in a fashion that is half as racist as the sexism they have shown toward Mrs. Clinton, they would have been fired long ago, and in total disgrace.

Daniel C. Weiner, Brookline, Mass.

Lynette Long's column "Painful Lessons" was right on.

Many pundits wonder why Sen. Hillary Clinton's female supporters are so dedicated to her and are not particularly enthusiastic about Sen. Barack Obama. They should read Ms. Long's column.

Women throughout the U.S. recognize the truths detailed by Ms. Long - that sexism is alive and well and has been far more consequential to Mrs. Clinton's campaign than racism has been to Mr. Obama's campaign.

And her conclusions about media coverage are also right on.

We've come to the point where media pundits and other so-called journalists are affecting the outcomes of our elections.

What happened to objective journalism?

Norma McDonald, Bel Air

No doubt sexism and racism have played a role in this year's Democratic primary elections. But for Lynette Long to claim that one (sexism) has played a greater role than the other is simply untrue.

Is Ms. Long claiming that it's easier to be a black candidate than a female one? If so, then let's compare the number of female governors and senators to the number of black senators and governors.

She writes about sexist statements being made about Sen. Hillary Clinton. But she ignores the fact that Mr. Obama has been subjected to racist statements as well.

It is true that Mr. Obama has received a majority of the black vote. But it is also true that Mrs. Clinton has received a majority of the female vote, which has sustained her candidacy.

I would also note that Mrs. Clinton and her campaign have never bypassed a chance to play the gender card and have even sometimes used the race card (as in the case of her statement about winning the votes of "hardworking white voters").

If Mrs. Clinton thinks that Mr. Obama is having an easier time as a black candidate than she is as a woman, she needs to listen to the interviews the BBC did with West Virginia voters after that state's primary.

We have two outstanding candidates fighting for the nomination of the Democratic Party who share similar ideologies and policy positions.

I hope that after eight years of President Bush, their supporters realize that what's at stake in the general election is more important than having their preferred candidate as the Democratic nominee.

Nonso Umunna, Baltimore

Data show spike in ALS for soldiers

Given that veterans of the first Persian Gulf war are twice as likely as other soldiers to get amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), they certainly deserve to receive the "service-connected" disability benefits and health care compensation that the Department of Veterans Affairs long denied them ("Veterans with ALS in race against time," May 19).

The VA claims evidence to support broader compensation of all veterans with the disease is lacking, but it has never published its own data on ALS rates among veterans of earlier wars.

A large mortality study of more than 500,000 men published in 2005 by researchers at Harvard University, however, provides just such evidence.

It found the risk of ALS among veterans born between 1915 and 1939 was 1.53 times higher than that of non-veterans, independent of when or where the soldiers served.

Whatever the cause(s) of this excess mortality, it clearly is related to military service, and the soldiers should be compensated.

Such compensation will be too late for my brother and for several other members of his small unit who died of ALS after serving in Korea. But I hope it will not come too late to help those currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Albert Donnay, Baltimore

The writer is an environmental health engineer.

Don't wait for study to help veterans

The article about Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Averella and his tragic illness illustrates a major problem with the Department of Veterans Affairs ("Veterans with ALS in race against time," May 19).

The government quickly sends soldiers into harm's way. But after they return, it often requires lengthy studies to determine if it will help treat these soldiers' illnesses.

Veterans should be given their benefits simply because they served - without waiting for a scientific study.

Dennis L. Noah, Baltimore

The writer is a Vietnam War veteran.

Bush was right on appeasement

I watched President Bush's speech in Israel and heard him talk about appeasement ("Bush denounces talk to terrorists," May 16). And what startled me was the reaction to the speech from the mainstream media and from leaders in the Democratic Party.

Sen. Barack Obama reacted swiftly and took personal umbrage at the remarks. Funny, I don't remember the president mentioning any names.

Mr. Bush made his speech just weeks after former President Jimmy Carter's failed attempt to appease Hamas.

Mr. Bush also mentioned how appeasement failed to deal with Adolf Hitler before World War II began.

Democrats' hurt feelings aside, can someone tell me what Mr. Bush said that wasn't true and historically accurate?

Ken Leary, Carney

Raise could attract better candidates

As a person who is affected (as we all are) by increasing prices, I found Leonard Pitts Jr.'s column "Why President Bush deserves a raise (really)" (Commentary, May 18) very interesting.

No one wants to discuss raises for our leaders during these tough times. But if raises bring better decision-makers into office, I'm for them.

Along with increasing pay so we get the best possible candidates, I would lower the amount that can be spent on any election to prevent candidates from buying a victory.

That way, I think we could get the best and the brightest, not the rich and the most crooked, representing us at all levels of government.

Matthew Smith, Cockeysville

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