' An Apostle of Alaska ' : Most women said thanks but no thanks to John McCain's running mate. "Sarah Palin's lack of substance is deafening and her looseness with the truth unsettling," one said. Many noted that she's diverting attention from McCain's "miserable" record on women's rights. "He opposes equal pay, insuring birth control and a woman's right to reproductive choice. He's an opportunist, and we are being played." Several scolded us for using a six-year-old cover photo of Palin with a gun. "If she's elected, let's hope her aim is better than Cheney's."
On 'We Fought Cancer…and Cancer Won': "As someone living with cancer, not dying of it, news of any new treatment is an occasion for hope. I know Tarceva might not work for me forever, but this is better than the 'three to six months' I had seven months ago!"
Barbara Levere, Pocasset, Mass.
Plucked From the Alaskan Frontier
Reading that Sarah Palin is being tutored on crucial national and world issues by cramming at a "boot camp on McCain world" was frightening ("An Apostle of Alaska," Sept. 15). When all she knows about international problems, health care and the economy are McCain talking points that can fit on index cards, how will she be able to contribute an independent viewpoint to policy discussions? If John McCain had truly put "country first" instead of his ambition, he would have chosen a different running mate.
West Hartford, Conn.
Before reading your cover story, I had major doubts about Sarah Palin. She came across as refreshing and astonishingly polished, but also as too sweet and polite to be an effective politician. Would she be tough enough to handle the people who might try to push her around if she gets elected? Your article erased every doubt. She appears to be as tough as they come. A shrewd and gifted mayor and governor, she scores higher on my list than the rest of the crowd on both tickets.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
I noticed that the caption accompanying one of your photos of Sarah Palin refers to her as a "former mayor of tiny Wasilla." I believe she is the sitting governor of Alaska. As such, her title is Governor Palin. I have yet to see a photo caption of Sen. Barack Obama referring to him as "a former community organizer."
With his eye toward capturing disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters, John McCain picked Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to help headline his presidential ticket. She has become his weapon of mass distraction, enabling him to divert attention from the very issues causing so much pain and hopelessness for millions of Americans: mortgage crisis, high unemployment rate, sluggish economy, failing education system, high gas prices, soldiers fighting in two wars, spiraling health-care costs and especially the devastating failures of the Bush administration.
Flip-Flopping on Family Values?
Jacob Weisberg's observation that the conservative values of promoting the nuclear family and preventing abortion are in fact at odds is a thought-provoking one ("What Happened to Family Values?" Sept. 15). Few would consider teen sex, pregnancy and marriage ideal. Most people applaud the bipartisan goals of reducing abortions and strengthening families. But by suggesting that the GOP moderate its stance on abortion, Weisberg misses the deeper issue. The essence of the anti-abortion argument is not that it promotes the American Dream, but that the life in the womb is as valuable as the life of the woman. Viewed through this lens, Sarah Palin's choices—both to raise a baby with Down syndrome and to encourage her pregnant teen to wed—are the most logical. Her son's disability and her daughter's pregnancy will no doubt complicate their lives, but neither of those inconveniences legitimizes the taking of a life. That a pregnancy may disrupt a young woman's life, shattering dreams and directing her toward "poverty, frustration and disorder," is indeed tragic. More tragic still would be to protect a woman's happiness and financial success at the expense of her child's life.
Fair Lawn, N.J.
Jacob Weisberg is foolish to accuse Republicans of flip-flopping on family values when they prefer unmarried parenthood to abortion. One might as well call an up-from-poverty wealthy man a hypocrite if he gives to charity. But Weisberg is quite correct that repealing Roe v. Wade "could be the best thing to happen to liberals since the New Deal." Since Roe, otherwise liberal-leaning voters have created the electoral majorities putting Republicans in office. How much liberal legislation on health care, education, environment, housing and gun control has been sacrificed to the cause of choice? For every pro-choice vote and dollar given to Democrats to "protect a woman's right to choose," more has been given to the GOP to "protect the lives of the unborn." If abortion had been kept out of the federal courts and remained in the hands of state legislatures, there would have been no Moral Majority, no Ronald Reagan, no George H.W. Bush and certainly no George W. Bush.
On a Quest for a Cancer Cure
I've lost people dear to me from cancer, and I don't appreciate the suggestion that inspiring success stories like Lance Armstrong's are distracting hyperbole circulated to keep morale high in a war we are losing ("We Fought Cancer … and Cancer Won," Sept. 15). The truth is that using sad stories like Robert Mayberry's, in addition to describing the number of cancer deaths each day as "equivalent to three jumbo jets crashing and killing everyone aboard," is no less hyperbolic. The simple fact of the matter is that so much about beating cancer depends on the intangibles, and stories of triumphantly overcoming the odds are the contents of the well from which our hopes spring eternal. They are every bit as valuable as any other form of treatment, and in our search for a cure, what will bring more funding to the table: hope or cynicism?