Mail Call

Many readers of our year-end issue on the potentially historic campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were eager for change in the presidency. "Can we fast-forward two years? You ask if America is ready for our first black or female president. I am an American. I am ready for either one." But others were wary of having the race begin so early. "I don't want to see them on the campaign trail yet. How about just rolling up their sleeves and governing for a year?" one wrote. And many scolded us for using Clinton's first name and Obama's last on the cover and in the article. "As a highly educated attorney, former First Lady, author and senator, hasn't Clinton earned equal respect by now?" one asked. Citing other possible contenders, including Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg, several echoed this reader's comment: "Let's hope voters will welcome intelligence back to the White House regardless of race, gender or even political affiliation!"

Thanks for your article on two possible 2008 presidential candidates--Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ("Is America Ready?" Jan. 1). The article's very best line and one that captures my reaction exactly was: "Whatever happens, the process feels uplifting."

Gretchen Morris

Corvallis, Ore.

You ask if America is ready for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. After six years of arrogance, nearsightedness and impeachable incompetence, the answer is yes . I'd say we are desperately ready. Finally, someone with brains, wisdom and a global perspective.

Bill Lenters

Rockford, Ill.

I'd be impressed if either of these candidates stopped flying around the country gathering support for a future presidential nomination and instead made a fervent effort to work some viable good in America now, not make promises about the White House two years from now. I'm not of voting age yet, but I will be in 2008, and I'm watching the candidates keenly. A politician who puts the most of his or her effort into his or her public persona is, in the end, nothing more than a paper face.

Catherine Faris King

Los Angeles, Calif.

Imagine a Democratic ticket that included Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Together, their strengths offset and balance the other's weaknesses. If instead of painfully battling each other for a nomination, they joined forces today, their combined resources could be a formidable alliance with a high prospect of success and an inspiration for change. America is ready for a demonstration of generational, racial and gender unity after so many years of destructive, political divisiveness.

Tomas Johnson

Moab, Utah

Your focus on Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama raises the question of the electability of any incumbent senator running for president. Historically, they have not done much better thanincumbent vice presidents. Bush Sr. was the only sitting vice president sinceMartin Van Buren to be elected president. Of the many more senators who have run, the only one to succeed since Warren Harding was JFK, and he just managed to beat an incumbent vice president. Granted, in the 2008 election--the first in 80 years without an incumbent presidentor vice president on the ballot--the final choice may well be between senators, and the jinx could be broken. But by hyping these senators at this point in thecampaign, politicians and the media seem to be ignoring American voters' demonstrated preference for governors and other candidates not currently holding Washington office.

Ward Thompson

Penn Valley, Calif.

It is a sad commentary on the American electorate that it will yield so readily to charisma and the lure of lofty promises. Can anybody seriously envision either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as commander in chief of our nation's armed forces? I can't see either one of these attractive people going mano a mano with the terrorists who are pledged to destroy us. What ever happened to seasoned statesmanship's being a quality in a presidential candidate?

Frank M. Davis

Cedar Mountain, N.C.

In "Holy Family Values" (Dec. 18), you write that the Christmas Story is "a conflation of the two Gospels": Matthew and Luke. I agree. To a believer in Christ, the "story" is actually made complete in the blending of the entire Old and New Testament. A work containing 66 books, written by some 40 authors over a period of 1,600 years, needs to be savored and spiritually consumed as a complete meal spiced with diversity, mystery and hope.

The Rev. Phillip Grant

Bernardston, Mass.

Thank you for the fine article "Nativity of the Jews" (Dec. 18). As a Christian, I've come to understand that my faith is not rooted in the Greek-Roman world view of the first century but in Judaism. Writing in Romans, Paul makes it clear that as a branch grafted in, my sustenance is from these Jewish roots. Many Christians have tried to distance themselves from this heritage but as I embrace my Jewish roots, my Christian faith has become stronger. After all, Jesus was a Jew.

Frank Maddox, U.S. Army

Heidelberg, Germany

The young western men attracted to jihad want to achieve meaning in life, respect and status among peers, a few dollars for their families and, mostly, advance the cause of Islam ("The Regathering Storm," Jan. 1). But in reality they are undermining Islam. A few radical imams, teaching hate to impressionable boys, may have created a momentary movement, but they may be undoing the world's good will.

Stefen Malone

West Hollywood, Calif.

We attributed the "tangled web" of deceit to Shakespeare ("Trouble From the Top Down," Dec. 18). The words are actually from Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion." NEWSWEEK regrets the error.