Mike Lawrence (A different kind of presidential history, Aug. 28 Steamboat Today) showed little judgment or knowledge in repeating as fact a comment made at a Democratic National Convention event by former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, "that the next president will begin the job with 'the worst opening day position in history.'"
As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, I was at the same panel discussion in Denver as Mr. Lawrence. I drove from Steamboat that morning to join colleagues at several of the convention's events. Mr. Holbrooke's remarks, beyond the quote cited above, were partisan in the extreme, with countless lines of anti-Bush red meat for the largely Democratic crowd.
Ironically, the one Republican on the panel, former Congressman Vin Weber, received as much applause for his comments as any other panel member. Mr. Weber was the only panel member not mentioned in Mr. Lawrence's column.
But going back to the Holbrooke comment, it is not close to being factual. Let's see, Lincoln started his presidency with the Union about to shatter. FDR assumed the presidency in the midst of the Great Depression. Truman was in office only days when he was faced with the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. Nixon took office with 500,000 troops in Vietnam and a nation at war internally. And Ronald Reagan had a combined inflation and unemployment rate of nearly to 20 percent.
Of course, the next president will face a long list of challenges, some of which we see at the moment and some of which will emerge in time. This always is part of the job of leading the globe's leading nation. But, thankfully, it seems the corner has been turned in Iraq, and an end to major troop deployments is in sight. And just this week we learned that the economy grew this past quarter at a strong 3.3 percent.
So, one can forgive Mr. Holbrooke for his partisanship. He wants to win an election. But Mr. Lawrence owes his readers a trace more thought and research before he puts silliness in print.