MONDAY’S LETTERS: Soldier’s Suicide, ‘Worst President Ever,’ Ephron and Will

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, a reader reacts to Greg Mitchell’s recent column about a suicide of a soldier who had returned from Iraq, some (unsurprising) votes for “Worst President Ever” honors, and a reader agrees with Nora Ephron’s (and Peggy Noonan’s) response to columnist George Will about disrespect for the presidency.

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A Soldier’s Suicide

The article entitled “She Survived Iraq — Then Shot Herself at Home,” by Greg Mitchell (published November 13, 2006) really opened my eyes to how people in the military, fight in Iraq and when their tour of duty is done, that they are pretty much just dropped off to fend for themselves. You would think with all the money that is thrown into this war we could actually help our soldiers.

It seems that America hasn’t learned from past experience. With the Vietnam War, after many were done with their tour, many became homeless, using drugs to self-medicate, and some even killed themselves and now we are in the same boat. In the article it states that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans getting treatment for PTSD at VA hospitals and counseling centers increased 87 percent from September 2005 to June 2006 — to 38,144, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Even though many are getting diagnosed the problem is there is no follow-up. Just basically given pills or nothing at all and sent on their way. It seems with the military is done with these soldiers its like they feel “well their not my problem anymore.” But isn’t it because of the military and the war in Iraqthat caused the problems that these soldiers are going through. I thought the piece was very well written. I just hope that it will open up some eyes in the Senate and House that something needs to be done before we have more coming home and killing themselves.

Jessica Degn
California

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Suicide in Chicago

Thank you for carrying the November 26 AP story on Malachi Ritscher’s self-immolation in Chicago on your Web site.

I’m disheartened, however, to find no mention there of Norman Morrison’s sucide in front of Defense Secretary McNamara’s office in 1965 protesting the Vietnam War. Perhaps Ritscher’s action was influenced by Morrison’s.

Carol Holmes
New York, N.Y.


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Who Wins ‘Worst President’ Prize

Without a doubt George Bush is the worst President of all time.

I served during ‘Nam under Nixon, but I feel for anyone having to serve under Bush. George makes Dick look like a Boy Scout in comparison. George Bush has set a new standard for worst that Presidents Harding and Nixon could only have dreamed of. It makes you wonder if Barbra dropped him on his head as a baby. He may very well be the only moron to have ever graduated from Harvard.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are weeping in their graves.

William Marion



I find it pointless, childish, and naive to label any President or, for that matter, anything the “worst ever.”

I am not a fan of George Bush and I have never been. And from what I have read and heard, Johnson, Nixon, and Hoover, etc., have all had their faults, lapses of judgments, evils, what have you. Each human being has his/her own values and his/her own points of view with which he/she charts, marks, and judges the world. Each of us has a different amount of information about past Presidents, U.S. history, popular television shows of the 1980’s, etc. (it should be noted, each of us has different information of often suspicious validity).

This varied information mixed with varied goals creates varied political affiliations and varied political judgments. Our judgments about who was the worst president ever vary in much the same way. Not only do they vary within our current time (frozen for the purpose of a clarified perspective), but they vary throughout time. Decades ago, Josephus’ histories were considered much ‘greater’ than they are now. Often our greatest artists are despised while they live and deemed genius’s later. The Confederate South often disliked Lincoln, while some of the North loved him. Maybe George W. Bush will be considered the greatest president ever in twenty years, as Iraq turns democratic and the middle east becomes a stable model for the rest of the world. What is the ‘worst ever’ for us, is not the ‘worst ever’ tomorrow and was not, most likely, the ‘worst ever’ yesterday (at least not for the same reasons). What are we trying to get from this discussion? What is clear is that our president hasn’t done well lately and even the conservative newspapers think he’s bad. No authority and no historian is in a position to tell us who has been the ‘worst president ever.’

They can tell us what they believe to be the facts about past presidents and their decisions and we can say what we believe to be true. There is no debate, the ‘worst president ever’ is the ‘worst president’ for you, right now.

Chip Zuckerman



It is impossible to summarize why George Bush is the worst president, and I must add Dick Cheney is, too, the worst that this nation has ever had. …

Cheney and Bush should both be impeached and removed from office, not only because it is a punishment they deserve, but so that America can make a statement that that is NOT America, that we by doing so seek expiation for the sins and crimes of the past six years, and that we demand a return to the rule of law and rights of American citizens to the guarantees provided us in our Constitution.

Ronald D. Edge



How could there be any debate about it being George W. Bush?

Just for the way he got “elected” the first time around, and the doubts about the 2004 Ohio results, we saw the standard being set for all the rot that accompanied this unfit person to lead our country.

Everything about him is anti-presidential: his low intellect, his incuriousness, his indifference, his inarticulateness, his ironic lack of compassion, the calling card of his first term, that was glaringly exposed as nonexistent after Hurricane Katrina, his attack on 200 plus years of American democracy through the Patriot Act, his championing of internal spying, the suspension of habeas corpus and arresting of U.S. citizens labeled as enemy combatants without right to counsel, all pile up as indictments of his presidency and his administration and their appalling flaws.

We won’t even go into the tax breaks he pushed for which almost exclusively benefit the richest 1% of Americans, his disastrous record on the environment, his deal making with the oil companies, and on and on.

I don’t know much about some of the lesser known presidents and couldn’t say for sure whether each of the prominent presidents who were faced with the security of our nation when exposed to external dangers from attacks of war and terrorism over the past 200 years didn’t commit errors of judgement, but I’d bet money the current occupant of the Oval Office has left enough of a trail of evidence to place him at the top of the heap as the worst president in our nation’s history.

Brian Symonanis
Oak Park, Ill.



My criticism of Eric Foner’s contention that George W. Bush is the worst president is this:

Of the presidents Foner compares Bush to Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, and Johnson were all single term presidents; and Nixon resigned in disgrace from office.

The ability to maintain political influence is a key necessity of the Presidency. George W. Bush won’t make many lists of great statesmen; at the same time, he has yet to lose political relevancy. That keeps him out of contention for “worst.”

It’s also an interesting exercise in how actions are perceived to read Foner’s description, “…Polk should be remembered primarily for launching that unprovoked attack on Mexico and seizing one-third of it’s territory of the United States.” Polk should be remembered just as well for having taken audacious action that secured California for the United States at a time when military adventures for territory was common practice — only 30 years earlier under James Madison the United States had attempted to take Canada from Great Britain by military force.

Matt Kivela
Brooklyn, Conn.

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Ephron, Noonan, and Will

Nora Ephron and Peggy Noonan both got it right, so to speak. What George Will neglects to consider in his whining about ?patent disrespect for the presidency? is that respect is generally earned. By now it?s apparent that this president has earned all the disrespect he gets. And Mr. Will bespeaks the pompous if not prissy pedant.

Richard Neubert
Falls Church, Va.

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