Reviews | Is humility the right tone for Biden’s State of the Union address?

For the editor:

Regarding “The State of the Union is Stressed,” by David Axelrod (guest op-ed, February 16):

Mr. Axelrod’s advice is literally and figuratively irrelevant. The democratic base must be energized and mobilized, while the middle must be convinced that we are going in the right direction. Neither group will be inspired by a lukewarm State of the Union talk about what has been achieved.

This administration has failed to boast about its successes. President Biden needs to recount accomplishments forcefully while highlighting what his administration will still accomplish in the months ahead.

Yes, Mr. Biden may still sound empathetic in his address on Tuesday — that’s his natural state — but he doesn’t dare dwell on the issues, nor does it have to. The pandemic is moving in the right direction (although threats of other variants exist); the economy is booming (even if inflation has to be fought); respect has been and continues to be restored around the world (at a time when American leadership is urgently needed).

If Mr. Biden and his administration aren’t confidently saying we’re on the right track — which is a perfectly believable assertion — why should we expect Americans to believe him?

Philippe Vlahakis
new York

For the editor:

This op-ed puts into words what I’ve long believed: The Democratic Party needs to learn to make small, meaningful gains that can stick, rather than aim for sweeping reforms.

To use a sports analogy, continuing to put a few points on the board as the clock continues to tick may not be very sexy, but it will often win the game.

In an increasingly divided nation, those who can make meaningful change on behalf of the average American (such change often being at the political center) will make real, if unsexy, progress for Americans and can help rebuild our economy. This progress, especially during a pandemic, is what average Americans deserve from their politicians.

Paul Hally

For the editor:

Regarding “2 Manhattan prosecutors resign, putting Trump investigation in doubt” (front page, February 24):

After less than two months in office, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is reported to have overturned his senior staff’s judgment and may not pursue the criminal investigation against the Trump Organization and Donald Trump. Two assistant district attorneys leading the investigation, both involved for many months and with particular expertise in these matters, resigned in protest.

While one should not make judgments from afar and without knowing all the facts, Mr. Bragg’s decision is surprising and appears to run counter to the mounting evidence that Mr. Trump and his company have criminally played the system to reduce taxes and obtain bank credits. loans.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has a long reputation for excellence and impartiality. If that reputation is to be upheld, Mr. Bragg must quickly and persuasively explain the basis for his decision.

Gerald Harris
new York
The author is a retired New York Criminal Court judge and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney.

For the editor:

Re “Push to move on from Covid sharpens pain for those at risk” (front page, February 18):

As a pediatrician, I try to protect my patients by hiding and getting vaccinated. I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease requiring immunosuppressants. I lived in a “bubble” and had little contact with people outside my home.

Opinion talk
What will work and life look like after the pandemic?

I am lucky to have disability insurance and to be able to sequester myself. What about people who don’t have these “luxuries”? Those who have no choice but to work or have children who go to school or daycare?

As a society, shouldn’t we do our best to protect the most vulnerable, whether they are children, the elderly or the immunocompromised? We must do everything we can to protect each other, whether that means getting vaccinated or wearing a mask when possible. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need warrants. People would do it because it’s the right thing to do.

For the editor:

Re “Travel is my antidote to fear” (Guest Opinion Essay, February 19):

Andrew McCarthy is so right to identify a side effect of the more than two year old Covid pandemic for many people. Fear. Especially for older people who had planned to spend their retirement traveling as they pleased. A huge “Halt! came into our lives.

I traveled last year, carefully assessing what I can do safely, but honestly, it’s still not the same. There is always this fear that even if you try to protect yourself, it will somehow fail. And the Covid restrictions in place, for which I am grateful, at times seem simply overwhelming.

Over the past two years, my time has gotten shorter and my to-do list has grown longer. I am determined to move forward in my life. I can control what I do, but I cannot control the behavior of others. This is another fear that entered my life.

Karin Kemp
Matthews, North Carolina

For the editor:

I really enjoyed Andrew McCarthy’s reminders of the benefits of travel and his thoughts on fear. But reading the article, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh Andrew, your privilege is showing.”

Most of us don’t have the luxury of walking through Spain or traveling to Ireland. We have to face our fears every day without the benefit of travel or even the faint hope of being able to take time out of our daily survival to contemplate how fearful we have been and continue to be.

At least by reading his essay, I was able to travel in my head. It’s not the same, but I’ll take it and try to think of it as a little vacation.

Lauren J. Smith
Monson, Mass.

For the editor:

Regarding “What We Lose When Work Gets Too Casual,” by Elizabeth Spiers (guest op-ed,, February 7):

I have been an employee and an employer. As the essay indicates, working from home isn’t universally good for productivity, though those who were able to do so during the pandemic may have greatly appreciated (and needed) that flexibility.

In the same way that we tend to remember that we got better grades than we actually did, we may think more generously about our habits and actions than is warranted. We can remember our efforts, not necessarily the things we does not have to have finished.

Moving forward in a career takes hard work – harder work than staying in one place. You often have to work harder when you’re younger and newer, because you don’t know as much and have less experience. You need good faith, perhaps not always contradictory; present yourself with a positive attitude; and accept the limitations, including that there are no guarantees of how and when such advancement may occur.

If we all strive to maintain our boundaries, we may be able to arrive at a better and more honest place based on our values ​​and priorities. This includes the physical limit of the space we inhabit, which any architect will tell us greatly affects our behavior. For some, or many, returning to work in an office may be part of the response to consolidating boundaries and abandoning work at work.

The more honest employees and employers can be with each other and themselves, the better the outcome of this discussion will be, including a healthier culture that supports the emotional and physical healing we all have ahead of us.

Kate Nugent
South Burlington, Vermont

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