An e-mail I just sent…
Hello Professor McWilliams,
I read your recent Chronicle article. Then, after much google-searching, I found your Bush editorial. I thought I’d write to say that I think you are on to something in that editorial and that you’ve put it in a way that more clearly nails it than anything else I’ve read. So, start a new folder. Next to Angry Letters, name one Fan Letters, and drop this one in it.
I wonder if the point you make helps Democrats choose between Dean and Clark. My first impulse was to say, yes, because Clark, as a general, might be the only yeoman who could wield the sledgehammer that would get enough people’s attention. But, then, Dean has somehow developed this reputation for being “angry” and so perhaps that fiesty nature will be just the thing Americans will respond to best.
You seem persuaded that none of the above are up to the task. Why is that? It seems to me that one of the reasons is that another truth about Americans is that they tire quickly of (yet are often swayed by) attack-politics, and so the Democrat that yields a hammer against Bush plays a dangerous game.
You’re right that Americans will not suffer detailed argumentation. But, to the extent your editorial pinpoints a truth about Americans, it is one that deeply saddens me. It seems the further questions that must be asked are WHY is it that Americans have no patience for principled arguments and HOW can that be changed, if it can.