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Bigotry in Republican platform is wake-up call

I don't like what this country's come to. Reagan, Bush, Quayle and Baker Inc. and their accomplices have raped this republic for 12 years. It will take decades to restore the United States to any semblance of balance, and what do they have to say? "Hey, we may have screwed up the country, but don't vote for Bill Clinton because he didn't go to Vietnam."

I am a contemporary of Mr. Clinton who chose to go to war as a young man, and I would do so again in a heartbeat. I believed in 1965, and I believe now, that the basic idea was to help the people of Vietnam live in freedom. Had the war been conducted properly, that would have been the result.

As a disabled veteran who served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam during the early days of the war, I bought the right to judge those who "passed" on serving in that war. As to the notion that a non-veteran is unfit to be president, I say without hesitation, "These oats have already been processed by the bull."

Vietnam wrecked my life for more than 20 years. I'll be damned if I'll let the damage continue. As far as I am concerned, and most of my friends agree, if Mr. Clinton was smart enough to stay out of Vietnam, he is smart enough to be president. At the very least the chicken-hawks who surround George Bush need to shut up. Where were these cheerleaders when we were fighting for help from the V.A. system?

We are in trouble. We need to look forward. If this country wishes to honor those who did serve in Vietnam, let's elect someone who will develop strategies to find decent jobs for us. That man is Bill Clinton of Arkansas.

The real danger to the public is the bigotry displayed in the Republican platform. This is a wake-up call for all proper-thinking Americans.

There is a poison seeping into the minds of many in this republic. The source of this corruption is the lunatic fringe of the religious right that has hijacked the Republican Party. The power they bought while Reagan slept already has changed our country in ways yet to be seen. We are much the poorer as a nation, and much the sadder as a people, because of the hate they sow.

Meanwhile, in a classic case of sleight of hand, George Bush tries to pass himself off as Harry Truman. Good God!

I'll be 50 years old later this month, and the first president I remember is Harry Truman. We watched him in newsreels at the movies, as he walked down the street. We liked the way he stood up for his daughter when some critic found her talent lacking. He even had a stash of postage stamps that he placed on his personal letters. In short, Mr. Truman was a plain talking, strong man who defined moral courage for people my age.

President Truman was the last of the old machine politicians to get to the White House via the smoke-filled room, and yet history placed upon him the task of ending a war by killing 111,000 Japanese _ thus saving 10 times that number of our men _ while warrior Bush didn't have the guts to take out one tinhorn despot while making the world safe for emirs.

President Truman rebuilt the planet after the war with the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine and other bold moves. Mr. Bush lets the Chinese get away with murder.

President Truman introduced the idea of universal health care as a basic right. Bush thinks the poor should just go off somewhere and die.

In 1955, my father remarked that Harry Truman would prove to be the best president in the latter half of the 20th century. Damnedif he wasn't right about that, too!

M. Y. Keith, a Vietnam veteran, produces television programs in St. Petersburg.