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Thankful for Neal Smith

9/25/2013

Perhaps the most important comment to be published in Cityview came last week from Michael Gartner (Civic Skinny Comment, Sept. 19). His comments about Neal Smith were most appropriate, including the fact that after being defeated, the Smiths moved home to Des Moines — not taking the usual lobbying or consulting job.

Neal looks good at 93, and we can be thankful for his many good years of retirement earned after his stewardship in Congress.

Katherine B. Fromm
–Ames

 

Congressman Neal Smith “sitting all alone far from the platform at the Harkin steak fry, for the most part unrecognized by those younger a generation or two or three” these were some of the comments in the Michael Gartner article (Civic Skinny, Sept. 19). It begs the question, where was the leadership at this event? Why were the attendees not introduced to their history and the people who most shaped it? Why don’t our current leaders tap into the valuable knowledge of those who have been there, done that, had success as well as failure? Where was the natural curiosity of the younger generation of political activists? Why, of all people, must politicians tend to ignore the lessons of history?

Were they all too busy with their own agendas and perhaps their own self-importance? Was it because they judged him to no longer be as “influential and powerful” as he had been for 36 years?

I am reminded of the time I saw a man in his 80s at the gym. He was wearing an AC/DC band T-shirt. The vision was too interesting. So I had to ask him, “Did you go to the concert?” His reply, “I didn’t have tickets for the last time that they were here (2010), but I have seen them before.” I suspect he, like Congressman Smith, has seen a lot over the years. Now all I have to do is talk to him to hear what he saw and what he learned.

Mike Rowley
–Clive

 

The powerful Duffy

It was awesome to see “Since 708 B.C., Olympic Wresting” in Duffy’s View (Sept. 12). Powerful. Thanks.

Steve Pohlmeyer
–Urbandale

 

Obama’s diplomacy is notable not laughable

WHO radio talk-show host Simon Conway provided the expected contemptible dismissal of President Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis with his “America is the laughingstock of the world” claims (Political Mercury, Sept. 19). Conway said he had more respect for Putin than Obama, a shocking comment considering Putin criticized Obama for describing America as an exceptional nation. Does Conway agree with Putin that we don’t deserve to be called exceptional? Conway’s disrespect for the President seems to overwhelm any sense of reality about the President’s success in Syria.

It’s a bit premature, but it appears at this juncture that the President has accomplished a number of his goals in Syria without firing a shot. His threat of military action brought Syria, Russia and the U.N. to the negotiating table. The President’s goal was to elevate the significance of Syria’s use of chemical weapons as an unacceptable violation of international norms. In order to engage the Russians, Syria’s ally, he was forced to raise the threat of military action against Syria. He succeeded, with the help of Russia, to get Syria to agree to allow the removal and disposal of its chemical weapons. In addition, with the U.N. empowered by Obama’s actions, there appears to be a good chance for Geneva negotiations to proceed toward a cease fire in Syria.

President Obama is using cautious, deliberative and diplomatic leadership in an attempt to put the world on a course toward eliminating Syria’s chemical stock pile and a chance for a negotiated peace. Obama suffered critics on both sides — on the right, for his caution, and on the left, for his military threats — but, at this point, it looks like his balance between the two was nearly flawless.

Rick Smith
–Urbandale

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Barmuda