To the Editors of The Crimson:
In responding to John A. Cloud's editorial in the October 24 issue of The Crimson ("All Style and No Substance"), we wish to congratulate him for his well researched, well structured and polished editorial. While the media throughout most of the country refuse to engage in meaningful political discourse, his voice is a calmly intellectual one, as well as a refreshing one. We wish to address a few points, however, that the essay either neglected to mention or failed to understand.
First, the angle from which Cloud chooses to attack Sen. Bob Kerrey's presidential campaign is not an original one. In an article written for The New Republic in 1989 by Jacob Weisberg entitled "Senator Perfect," the ideas which Cloud points out are first stated, long before the Crimson piece.
Cloud's lack of originality, as well as his failure to fully cite the original article's ideas, is a shame given the otherwise polished quality of his analysis.
On the actual criticism of Kerrey himself, we shall make several arguments. First, Cloud failed to place the Senator's comments regarding the "evil empire" within its proper context. In the actual New York magazine article, it is clear that the senator made these remarks having just returned from a trip to the Soviet Union.
He was commenting on his observations that many Soviet people did indeed think favorably of Ronald Reagan, and that many now do view the old regime as something of an "evil empire." By using that phrase, Reagan did not intend to "show support for the people of the Eastern bloc," as Cloud criticizes.
However, Kerrey did observe that in looking back, the new Eastern European democracies do view Reagan as a well-liked personality. To base one's impression of the Senator's foreign policy on a single quote, and a misinterpreted one at that, is a mistake which rational political discourse should avoid.
On another point, Cloud's tone towards the senator's style of sincerity seems rather snide for an objective analysis of a candidate. By labeling the senator's singing of "And the Band Played 'Waltzing Mathilda'" as "hoaky," Cloud seems to be injecting an unnecessary brand of brash disdain towards any outward displays of emotion. If Cloud were to ask several Vietnam veterans in the national campaign who were angered by his article, we're sure that he would find it less than a "hoaky" matter to many people.
Finally, to accuse Kerrey of being "All Style and No Substance" seems premature at best. Criticizing a three week-old campaign for not having decided its entire domestic and foreign policy strategy is grossly unfair.
Lack of substance could easily be a criticism of most of the other Democratic candidates as well, even those who have been campaigning for much longer than Kerrey has. In the ultimate analysis, the campaign has yet to be run. Don't start blindly criticizing before you have anything to criticize.
Sen. Bob Kerrey's sense of sincerity and passion should not be misconstrued as the only thing the campaign has to offer. Instead, it shall be the firm starting base for the real campaign. --Victor W. Hwang '93, Director of "Harvard Students for Kerrey"