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Ben Geyerhahn

I like your ideas for a platform, but I view talking points as less policy than politics. I think we need to aim the talking points at Bush's deficiencies. I propose talking points that aim at Bush's reputation for a being a steadfast leader and either cast his position negatively or show this not to be the case. I also think we should attack his most popular policies. Here are just a few thoughts.

1. Bush's tax policy will bankrupt social security, which will disproportionately affect those in the middle and lower class, even though it disproportionately benefits those in the upper class.

2. Bush is the only modern president to go to war without asking the entire country to make any sacrifice toward that effort. The contrary, he tried to buy American favor with a tax cut. The wealthy benefit here, and the poor who fill the ranks of the military risk their lives.

3. Bush is all politics and no substance. No child left behind was passed, but never fully funded. That money was used for the Bush tax cut. I also don't believe Bush funded his worldwide AIDS prevention initiative. What happened to putting a man on mars, the great State of the Union promise? Has Bush done anything on his steroids initiative? The only policy issue he followed through on was a Gay Marriage Amendment, which is purely political.

4. When called by his country in Vietnam, Bush chose the Guard. Kerry could have avoided service, and he didn't. There is nothing inherently wrong with Bush's decision, but voters should consider what each of these men did at critical junctures in their lives.

5. Bush's war in Iraq is a terrorist recruiting tool. The pictures from the war of dying children and women and prisoner abuse are a recruiting tool, and have made America substantially less popular with other Arab nations. The lawlessness of the country creates place for terrorists to meet and train--Hussein had not allowed terrorists in his country he was largely a secular leader and he kept his borders tight.

These are my ideas generally. I think they could be sharpened a bit, but they are a start.

Dan Jacobson

While I think that your idea of presenting talking points is well-intentioned, I think it is dangerous. Giving people talking points denies them the impetus to derive their own ideas and conclusions. This both deprives them of the process of forming their own original thoughts, and it leaves them vulnerable to attack when they are not flexible enough with their knowledge base to understand and take one step further the concepts they claim to believe to rebut such attacks.

Incidentally, I feel the same way about relying too much on op-ed columns, and for that matter, all literary publication. It is one thing to use the facts presented in these columns to form unique opinions; it is another entirely to claim the opinions formed as one's own, simply quoting them and naming the author, to sound well-versed, only to fall flat once someone poses a challenge to the idea and the person quoting the columns is not capable of forming his or her own independent abstract thought on a matter. Furthermore, it is dangerous to quote an author's ideas and take them for one's own without taking into account an author's background, context and agenda.

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