Comments: Week of October 5, 2009

1. New York is Obama country, more or less, so it stood to reason that Philip Weiss’s exploration of why President Obama inspires so much angry rhetoric (Who Is Barack Obama? September 28) would inspire so much supportive rhetoric from readers. “The current vitriol has SORE LOSER and immaturity written all over it,” declared one commenter on “Obama hatred has evolved into believing he is the Antichrist,” claimed another. “To this kind of blatant hatred, we have no response. And these people don’t deserve one.” But some commenters were outraged at the idea that opposition to the president is strictly a right-wing phenomenon. “So if you are against Obama, you are crazy, but if you rave like a lunatic about Bush, you are practicing patriotic dissent?” asked one commenter. “Evidently, in the skewed and simplistic view of the author, anyone who disagrees with Mr. Obama’s politics is a ‘hater,’ ” groused another. Others protested that the situation is less volatile than the media makes it seem: “Loud disruptions, threats of violence, and offensive signs were the exception at this spring and summer’s tea parties and town halls. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have voiced objections to the Democratic Party’s policies without resorting to ad hominem attacks.” Of course, there was some of the anger that the story was about: “Obama has lived for almost 50 years without leaving any footprints—none! There is no Obama documentation, no bona fides, no paper trail, nothing.” The magazine cover image, of the president’s face covered with the epithets used by protesters, also came under fire. “It seems to me it [the cover] can only help to incite those haters of our president and lure the impressionable into the opinion that some or all of the invectives are true. How could you not realize that this type of picture will cause more hatred and misinformation than do any good?”

2. Readers were similarly divided over the new archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan (The Archbishop of Charm,” by Robert Kolker, September 28). Several took issue with Dolan’s following the traditional Catholic line, particularly on gay marriage. “It makes me sad that the Catholic Church cannot, or will not, take a more progressive stance on the issue of marriage, and a host of other issues as well,” noted one commenter. “I know the archbishop personally from his time in Missouri, and he’s truly a wonderful man with a great heart. Just wish there could be a more modern stance on so many issues.” Others came to the defense of the church’s more traditional values. “I am always confused by people who get angry with the Catholic Church for not changing its views to better fit contemporary notions,” said one commenter. “It’s a 2,000-year-old religion for goodness’ sake! It’s not a political party. The church, for those who believe in it, represents God’s will on Earth to the best of its understanding and ability.”

3. These days, even Little Leaguers aren’t beyond reproach. The story of 13-year-old baseball wunderkind Karl “KB” Blum (Hardball,” by Stephen Rodrick, September 28) drew mixed reactions from readers. Several cast doubt on the motivation behind KB’s pursuit of high-level play. “Karl is a ‘Heisman Dad.’ He is living through his kid,” said one commenter. “Kids play in these leagues because they get many things from playing—first and foremost is adult approval, a social structure, and an identity. By the time kids hit this level, they know nothing else, and then have little choice,” observed another. Friends and family of KB came forward to disagree. “I am KB’s 20-year-old cousin, and I have to say that the comments from some are very hurtful to my family,” read one comment. “Success in baseball is not parent-driven. It comes from within.”

4. On October 6, Simon & Schuster will publish Last Man Standing, by Duff McDonald, a biography of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon that originated as a story in this magazine (The Heist,” March 31, 2008).

Send correspondence to:

Comments: Week of October 5, 2009