I saw one of your writers on MSNBC today (February 24, the day of Betty Lou Beets’ Huntsville execution). I think his name was King. I am happy to see that not all Texans have a bloodlust that is often portrayed in these cases. I know you have an uphill battle, but you are not alone.
Eric P. Slind Colbert, Washington
Thanks so much for Barbara Belejack’s article on Alejandra Matus re El Libro Negro (“Letter from Guadalajara,” February 4). Will be reading in it, as my Spanish is pretty good, unlike George Dubya’s. Did not know about the Feria, the FIL in Guadalajara before this. As always, the Observer and its editors bring news I can’t find anywhere else. Also enjoyed Michael King’s report on the self-disinviting of Henry Kissinger (“Good Riddance,” February 18). Bravo to the U.T. students, too.
Kyla Bynum Via e-mail
It has been four years since I moved from Texas to Las Vegas. I was shocked to see the Governor of my former state crawl into bed with the racists at Bob Jones University. Okay, I was not shocked that he would stoop so low to do it, but I was shocked that no one gave a damn. I am furious that the president wannabe could so easily kiss ass at Bob Jones and suffer no consequences for his actions. Where was the outrage by both the left and right on his pandering to these unrepentant racists? This is so sad. How dare he even think of reaching for the highest office in the land if he doesn’t have the guts to look religious bigots in the eye and tell them to go to hell. Bush has shown what compassionate conservatism is – sympathy for racists and bigots.
Mark Antonuccio Las Vegas, Nevada
SLEDD ON DUTCH
I would generally agree with James Sledd’s commentary on Dutch, by Edmund Morris (“Informant T-10 and Christian Star Wars,” February 18), without totally agreeing with his negative attitude toward the book as a whole. It seems that this official Reagan biography trashes Dutch about as effectively as, perhaps, even Dr. Sledd. Some of the things he says are downright frightening. Morris swings wildly from unbridled hero-worship of Dutch, to expressing the opinion that he was an airhead. It is mildly amusing to read of Dutch introducing himself to Michael, his son, at Michael’s high school commencement, as, likewise, it is to note his mistaking his (African American) Secretary of H.U.D. for the mayor of Washington.
The biographer comes across as a bit of an airhead himself when he complains about Dutch wasting the last half of Morris’s weekly one-hour conferences. Dutch, it seems, had a bad habit of ending with a lengthy tale of Hollywood days, instead of merely answering questions. Morris should have been listening instead of complaining. Hollywood was the greatest reality of all in the mind of Ronald Reagan. At another point he suggests that the thugs in the Kremlin would be enormously impressed by the ruthless thuggery of Reagan’s mass lockout of the air traffic controllers. If Dutch had gone to Moscow they might have given him a Hero of the Soviet Union medal for his firm hand. Ultimately (says Morris), the Soviet regime was destroyed by the courage of Dutch in calling it an Evil Empire. The Russians took this talk to heart and down came the Bolshevik walls. It is terrible that no one else ever thought of this. It might have saved a lot of money if one of the earlier presidents had voiced this simple description.
As Morris says, Dutch believed. He referred to the president’s addled scholarship, accusing the New Dealers of both fascism and modified Communism. Morris goes on to describe more examples of what he calls Reagan’s encyclopedic ignorance. He points out that Dutch was not dissuaded by fact corrections from his aides. Once he got something of that sort in his head (usually from reading in conservative publications) he just repeated it over and over again. On thing Dutch was sure of: he did not trade arms for hostages. He merely hired some fellows in Iran, who had to have the arms as part of their hire.
Generally, Morris states laudatory opinions about Dutch, but appears to relish factual data that relegates him to airheadhood. Reagan’s denials of arms-for-hostages share a kinship with Bill Clinton’s more sensational “did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman.” Reagan was the nightmare we all expected when he was elected. If he turned out less vicious than we anticipated, it might be we were saved from the worst by the common sense of Nancy Reagan. But he was a stinker.