Letters: Obama, Political Wives, Jack Bauer, Turnips

Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep read listeners' comments.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It is Thursday morning, which means it's time for your comments.

Many of you responded to Barack Obama's speech on race. Obama said this week that he could no more disown the divisive pastor Jeremiah Wright than he could reject his own white grandmother. NPR's Juan Williams offered this analysis...

JUAN WILLIAMS: His grandmother expressing concern about black men is quite different than Reverend Wright's statements. Barack Obama tried to make them parallel in scope.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Listener Steve Dumbald(ph) from Cincinnati, Ohio disagrees. He writes: Obama's comparison of Reverend Wright's statements with his white grandmother's was on point. He does not reject the individual even when he strongly disagrees with the individual's comments. He adds: Isn't that what we need?

INSKEEP: Patricia Ashby(ph) writes from Durham, North Carolina: It seems to me that Juan Williams misses the point of the example Obama gave. Most of us do not have to reconcile that kind of pointed assault on our own sense of who we are from loved ones. The positive side of having to reconcile such a conflict is that it can lead to greater tolerance.

MONTAGNE: And several of you found it hard to tolerate our online photo gallery of political wives standing by as their husbands offered public apologies. Dawn Allstat(ph) from Roseville, Minnesota writes: NPR News coverage ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, but I seldom find it deeply offensive. The photo gallery showing political wives crossed that line.

INSKEEP: Kathy Mooney(ph) from Boston agrees. Pounce on the perpetrators if you like, she says, but please don't make their spouses fair game as well.

MONTAGNE: Still other listeners have trouble tolerating Jack Bauer. Our series In Character profiled the fictional counterterrorism agent who stops at nothing, including torture, to keep the nation safe.

(Soundbite of TV show, "24")

(Soundbite of screaming man)

Mr. KIEFER SUTHERLAND (Actor): (As Jack Bauer) (Unintelligible) you will experience pain I can't even describe.

MONTAGNE: I was a fan of the show "24" for about a season and a half, writes Steve Hahn(ph) of Tacoma Park, Maryland; then I stopped seeing innocent fantasy and started seeing a cultural influence helping to create general acceptance among Americans for things like torture, renditions and indefinite imprisonment without recourse.

INSKEEP: Rob English(ph) of Syracuse, New York wishes the program were more realistic in pointing out that torture victims will say anything to stop the pain. I want to see shows in which Jack Bauer rushes to the west side of town to defuse the bomb but then sees the east side of town blow up because his torture victim gave him the wrong information.

MONTAGNE: And finally, several of you responded to our anecdote about a suspicious package delivered to a law firm in Indiana.

INSKEEP: X-rays showed no explosives, but police took no chances. They blasted the package with a water cannon. Only afterward did they find the package contained one raw turnip. Nobody is sure why it turned up.

MONTAGNE: Our coverage reminded listener Mel Harris of an old saying. He sent it to us from Clemson, South Carolina. I don't care how hard they squeeze, you can't get blood out of a turnip. Can't get a bomb either.

INSKEEP: Don't be root vegetable. Send us a comment. Just go to NPR.org and click Contact Us.

MONTAGNE: Steve, not that there's anything wrong with being a root vegetable.

INSKEEP: Never.

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