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It's simply a matter of respect

Re: No matter what, he's still "Mr. President" by Howard Troxler, Feb. 21.

Hear! hear! to Howard! In one simple column, Troxler summed up, to me anyway, a lot of what is wrong with our nation. I, too, am sick and tired of the disrespect people give to the leader of our nation _ and that is what he is, whether you or I like it or not, and he will continue to be our leader for the next three years. It is simply a matter of respect for the office that Mr. Clinton represents _ that alone entitles him to the personal respect of not being referred to as a "jerk."

I am a registered Republican, I did not vote for Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. I do, however, get misty-eyed when I hear him speak about our nation and the things that are wrong with it, as well as the things that are right with it. Part of me wants to believe that all of his promises can happen and that he will leave this country a better place when he leaves office than it was when he entered office. It's not a question of loyalty to party or person, it is loyalty to this country and to what the president represents to us and to the world.

It disturbs me deeply that people are so "free-tongued" in their disrespect. I believe in freedom of speech as much as the next person, but free speech is a right that has to be handled responsibly. My heart breaks when I hear my small children ask me why someone said that the president was a jerk, or even worse, I'll hear them playing "grown-up" and I'll hear my 7-year-old say something like, "That jerk, Bill!" I will not allow that in my house, and I sat down and had a long talk with my child about how important it is to support our president whether we agree with him or not. If our country is to grow and prosper, the most important thing we have to do is to teach our children to respect the system, no matter how tough that may be at times. A lot of people need to be treated like children and told to be good sports and accept the will of the people. Bill Clinton was elected by the people in this country, he was not appointed by someone without the opinion or approval of the people. I am in complete agreement with Howard Troxler and heartily approve of the way he handled his situation. It is simply a matter of respect.

L. L. Bluett, Largo

Howard Troxler hit it right on the head with his excellent Feb. 21 column about still respecting the position of the president while at the same time disagreeing with him. The ability to agree to disagree is a virtue lost on too many in today's society. Unfortunately it's seen as a much quicker path to boost one's own standing by ripping a messenger instead of a message. There's much less work and thought involved also.

On the surface such disregard for common courtesy may seem to stem from a lack of respect, but a deeper look shows it to be more of a lack of self-respect. I happen to disagree with a number of President Clinton's policies. But the fact that I hold differing views does not diminish my respect for the president of the United States. I don't agree with some of Howard Troxler's views. So what? In your paper the same day a letter writer included the following quote by Thomas Merton: "There are three classes of people to be taken into account: the yes-men, blood-suckers, and operators."

"The yes-men adopt the line of some political leader, and repeat his statements by heart, imagining that they know something, confident that they are getting somewhere, and thoroughly satisfied with their own voices" Something to think about.

Kenneth M. Talbot, Seminole

Three cheers for Howard Troxler's column No matter what, he's still "Mr. President."

Regard for our democratic system is, to my way of thinking, the highest expression of responsible citizenship. Times are ripe for a quantum leap toward civility and respect.

Paul A. Carpenter, St. Petersburg

Poll results questioned

Re: your story regarding the opposition to state Rep. Ron Klein's bill to ban semiautomatic "assault rifles" (Opposition getting tough on tough plans for guns, Feb. 16), it seems to me that here is another ambitious young blade cutting his political teeth on the popular but erroneous liberal theme that banning such weapons is the answer to crime and violence.

Klein states that he doesn't really think that 3,500 opponents of his bill who took the time and trouble to attend a rally equal 14-million Floridians. Of course not. But then neither do the (presumably) zero supporters of his bill attending the same rally. However, I can conclude that the level of attendance at the rally does indicate that a very large proportion of Florida's population does not wish this ban to become law.

You report that Klein says that "polls show up to three-quarters of Floridians support a ban on assault weapons." Which polls? When taken and by whom? How many Floridians were polled and where? My own informal inquiries have not yet revealed one single resident of, or visitor to, this part of Florida who has been invited to participate in such a poll. Consequently, I seriously doubt his claim and I invite Klein to publish not only the certified results of his "polls," but also the content of the polls and the demographics of those polled in order that the neutrality of such "polls" may be seen and that no particular slant to one side of the issue or the other was presented to those polled.

I suspect that the numbers are not high and those polled are not truly representative of the general population of Florida. If this proves to be the case, then Klein should immediately apologize for his misleading statements and withdraw his bill.

Richard Overall, Oldsmar

Re: Opposition getting tough on tough plans for guns, Feb. 16.

Florida Rep. Ron Klein has claimed that "polls show up to three-quarters of Floridians support a ban on assault weapons."

Well, I knew I had never been polled on this as a state issue, so I asked around, starting by asking people I know. I continued searching, randomly asking people every time I thought about it. I couldn't find anyone who had been polled on this as a state issue! How Klein can make any claim to accuracy in a poll that no one I asked seems to have heard of is a mystery to me, although a poll on this subject is a moot point no matter how it turns out. The lawful public has the right to own the firearms of the day (just as the government owns guns), and rights are simply not subject to a popularity contest.

Paul O'Brian, Seminole

End the embargo

The fact that members of both the left and right political spectrum are calling for an end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba is a good sign. And even though some may be basing their decision on bankrupt reasoning, the more the Clinton administration realizes that the right-wing, reactionary Cuban community is standing alone, the easier will be the political decision to lift the embargo.

The time is now. Clinton can no longer offer any excuses to the public. The embargo must go.

Dan C. Marelli, St. Petersburg

Government at work

It is interesting how so many people complain about government spending but, at the same time, these same people gobble all they can get from the government.

A recent letter writer spoke against the reform plan of the Clinton administration; however, he immediately told how he handed over his Social Security number and that was all he needed to take care of the medical bills. Wasn't that government at work?

It appears many of our citizens say "I've got mine." However, what about the 37-million who can't hand in a Social Security card? In addition, what about those who lose jobs and health insurance? Those who say "I've got mine" are just plain selfish.

By the way, it was under Democratic administrations that we got Social Security and Medicare. The Republicans opposed it both times. If you don't believe that, look it up. It's there.

Richard and Marcella Lisch, Palmetto

Columns bring comment

Again I compliment Jack Payton on his excellent column _ this time, a refreshing, funny one titled Attack of the angry young twerps, Feb. 10.

In addition to his wonderful insight and understanding of foreign affairs, he has a superb sense of humor.

Mr. Payton, thank you for allowing us a good laugh in this sad world full of atrocities, natural disasters, etc.

Doris Halpern, St. Petersburg

Re: Oliver North's revenge, by Jack Payton, Feb. 20.

Kudos to Jack Payton for fingering good old Ollie North. Someone in Virginia better come up with a good replacement for Robb and North or we Americans are sunk again!

Judith M. Stevens, Clearwater

One can easily understand the feelings of Jack Payton, instead of being able to vote for the best man, being forced to vote against the least desirable choice of Chuck Robb or Oliver North.

No matter which man is elected to the U.S. Senate, if he were to be seated in between Bob Packwood and Ted Kennedy, his sterling character _ by contrast _ would outshine the other two so as to make the state of Virginia almost proud.

S.

W. Sayles, St. Petersburg

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