Mail Call: Learning More About a Private Lady

'Behind That Smile': Readers were intrigued to learn more about Cindy McCain, who many acknowledged has gained their respect and admiration. "I'm afraid I had drawn an unfair impression of Mrs. McCain based on nothing but stereotype," one said. "You showed us a big-hearted, flawed woman, trying to do her best for family and community." Another praised her sons, who are serving in the armed forces. And one wrote, "I have concluded that America will have an excellent First Lady whether McCain or Barack Obama is elected president."

On 'Bucky's Very Large Dome': "Buckminster Fuller didn't see clearly in his formative years. He had to make sense of a reality of fuzzy patterns. That imagination-creating process became hardwired in his brain and served to inspire him."
Lewis A. Rhodes, Silver Spring, Md.

Understanding Cindy McCain
After reading "In Search of Cindy McCain" (June 30), I must say my view of her changed 180 degrees. She is nothing like I imagined her to be, and I was pleasantly surprised by her candor, strength and commitment to her family, business, country and charity work. Part of my assessment on who gets my vote for president takes into account who our First Lady will be. She will be the female face representing this country, supporting her husband, and no doubt giving her opinion behind closed doors. Thank you, NEWSWEEK, for the balanced coverage and for shedding light on Cindy McCain.
Christina Williams
Athens, Ga.

The article about Cindy McCain was most certainly insightful. One has to admire her honesty in speaking about her addiction to painkillers and her theft of them from a nonprofit she founded. I was also impressed with her candor about the way she and John met in Hawaii. She admits they didn't divulge their true ages to each other. Our country has been mired for too long in digging up dirt on politicians and their spouses. It is time to have the candidates speak out about the issues that really matter. Thank you to the McCains for their openness, honesty and character.
Mark Challis
Des Moines, Iowa

After reading the profile of Cindy McCain, I felt compelled to write. Access to quality health care has obviously played a big part in her story: she started her nonprofit to help those in need in the world's poorest countries. And I suspect the remarkable recovery from her stroke can be partially attributed to excellent medical care. Thus, I can't help but wonder why she is connected to the Republican Party, which remains seemingly unconcerned about millions in America who cannot afford necessary prescriptions, preventive procedures and lifesaving surgeries. Cindy McCain seems compassionate and her husband is certainly honorable, but until their party can propose affordable, universal solutions to our health-care crisis, I'll plan to vote otherwise.
Micah Mitrosky
San Diego, Calif.

In your very moving cover story, America and the world can clearly see what a wonderful, warm and sincere woman we can have as First Lady. She personifies what a loving wife and mother should and can be, along with showing the world through her charitable work and love of others what dedicated humanitarians real Republicans are. And let us also not forget that these qualities are shared by her husband.
Tom Letourneau
Cumberland, R.I.

Chemists Get the Credit
Your June 30 story "Bucky's Very Large Dome" on Buckminster Fuller stated that "physicists discovered the soccer-ball-shaped carbon C60 molecule" and named it "buckminsterfullerene" for its resemblance to Fuller's geodesic domes. This statement is incorrect. In actuality, chemists discovered this molecule, which gave birth to the ongoing scientific revolution in nanotechnology. Three of those chemists shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this discovery. As president of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, I am concerned that the public often overlooks chemistry's contributions. With the credit for great innovations like nanotechnology going to physics, biology, medicine and other fields, chemistry's role in making everyday life longer, healthier and happier takes on a cloak of invisibility.
Bruce E. Bursten, Dean
College of Arts and Sciences
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tenn.

Drivers Using Radar Detectors
Let's be realistic ("Reinventing the Fuzzbuster," June 30). These radar detectors are for one thing only: allowing irresponsible drivers to break the law and lessen their chances of getting caught. Cobra Electronics' Sally Washlow tries to put a spin on using these devices by stating Cobra is considering adding a GPS-enabled function to alert drivers when they're in a school zone. If you own one of these detectors, should you rely on it to warn you of impending danger, such as entering a school zone, or let you know an emergency vehicle is approaching? Absolutely not. How about taking responsibility for your actions and not relying on some electronic marvel plugged into your cigarette lighter? If you are a young and reckless or an old and reckless driver, devices like this will provide only more excuses to break the law and put the rest of us in danger. Perhaps someone can invent an electronic warning device to protect the safe drivers and warn us when fuzzbuster-equipped drivers are approaching us.
Barry E. Sanders
Boca Raton, Fla.

GIs Who Don ' t Belong in the Army
Dan Ephron laments the death of Pvt. David Dietrich, a soldier who some believed was mentally unfit for military duty (" 'He Should Never Have Gone to Iraq,' " June 30). Loss of life is always regrettable, but the societal issues at stake in this situation are larger than the mental capacity of one patriot. Our society cannot relegate military service to the lower portion of its social spectrum and then decry that not every enlistee is a "poster boy." The goal of the U.S. military will always be to accomplish the mission that it has been tasked with using the assets it has been provided with. So, if you want to support our troops, put a magnet on your bumper and leave the professional men and women of our armed forces to accomplish their mission in the best manner possible. And if you don't want to see "borderline" troops on the front lines, encourage the finest young Americans that you know to enlist. Finally, if you respect those in uniform, don't politicize the tragic death of an American who volunteered to serve, especially by implying that he was too stupid for the job.
Jeff Alderdice
Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Supreme Court Judges ' Reign
"The High Court: A User's Guide" (June 30) is right on the mark. An American president can be in office, at most, for 10 years. This is not so with the Supreme Court justices. I'm aware that my vote for president will affect the highest court because he will likely seat several justices who will then have the ability to control the direction of the country for decades to come.
Lori A. Sherwood
Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Bossy Kids
Kathleen Deveny's suggestion that bossiness is a trait that should be fostered in young girls and tolerated in female employers reminded me of my least favorite workplaces ("We're Bossy—And Proud of It," June 30). As she states, the compulsion of some boys to push others around is effectively curbed on the playground, physically, among boys. But the peer punishment a bossy girl will receive in place of a pummeling is far less instructive, despite seeming more desirable than bruises: a bossy girl will simply find herself left out. That isolated, intelligent, lonely girl may never know why people do not like her. A "good boss" makes workers feel empowered rather than subjugated, and if he or she is called "bossy," it's because someone is treating people like a herd of cows.
Laura Nisbet
Efland, N.C.

My 6-year-old daughter was labeled "bossy" by her teachers when she was just in prekindergarten. I've sat through unpleasant parent-teacher conferences where her bossiness was the only topic covered. I have even had parents of her friends mention to me that my daughter "took charge" of playdates. I've been apologizing for her behavior while thinking to myself that this is the type of woman I want her to become—outgoing, strong and independent. If that means she is labeled "bossy" in the meantime, then so be it. I'm keeping this article in my purse, so the next time someone complains about my daughter's assertiveness, I will have Kathleen Deveny's essay as proof that bossy isn't such a bad thing to be.
Kristi Leonard
Oklahoma City, Okla.

McCain ' s Oversight at Boeing
In "McCain's Boeing Battle Boomerangs" (PERISCOPE, June 30), disgruntled Air Force officials were allowed to hide behind the rough-and-tumble of the presidential election in order to rehash their smear of Sen. John McCain's oversight efforts on the Boeing tanker lease. As an organization working to expose the corruption of the tanker deal at the time, we are well aware of how bad that deal was. Due to McCain's willingness to put the enormous time and effort it took to expose the corruption, two people were sent to jail, the CEO was forced to resign and the deal was scuttled. The Air Force had drafted the solicitation so narrowly that without McCain's intervention, there would not have been genuine competition, and only Boeing could have won it. To be sure, it is very disappointing that the McCain campaign didn't prevent its people from later becoming lobbyists for Boeing's competition. However, that shouldn't tarnish his good work. If such stories dampen any willingness on the part of the Congress to conduct the often thankless work of oversight, the real loser here will be the taxpayer.
Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project on Government Oversight
Washington, D.C.

Gay Students at Christian Colleges
Thank you for writing about gay-straight groups at campuses of faith in America ("Joining the 'Out' Club," June 16). This topic needs addressing, and to be mentioned in NEWSWEEK is an amazing blessing. However, I'd like to correct two points. You wrote that Bethel University's gay-straight alliance doesn't have a room in which to meet; in fact, the Anthropology and Sociology Department is letting us use the lounge in a private area in its building as a meeting place this year. And our group does have a name. We are called the Bethel Gay Straight Alliance.
Amanda Lillie
St. Paul, Minn.

Correction
In "In Search of Cindy McCain" we referred to her son Jack, who is at the U.S. Naval Academy, as a cadet. In fact, he is a midshipman. NEWSWEEK regrets the error.