The State of the Union Is … Feisty

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  • A National Commission on the Police
  • Knitting and Politics
  • The Secret Donor

President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday began with displays of comity but devolved into overt heckling from some Republicans.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Urges G.O.P. to Work With Him to Build Economy” (front page, Feb. 8):

While concerns over President Biden’s age and acuity of mind have at times weighed heavily on great swaths of Democratic voters, including me, the president’s State of the Union address blew at least some of those clouds of concern away.

Mr. Biden was clearly in his element, quick on his feet and sharp as a tack as he took on hecklers like the insufferable Marjorie Taylor Greene in real time. He wasn’t flustered and didn’t stoop to their level; instead, the president turned the table on their cheap insults. It was a brilliant political moment.

Voters likely won’t make decisions about whom they’ll support in 2024 for a while now, but my sense of worry is somewhat alleviated, at least for right now.

Cody Lyon

To the Editor:

Before and during his inspiring speech enumerating plans to “finish the job,” President Biden set a tone by graciously recognizing his worthy opponents. From sincerely congratulating Speaker Kevin McCarthy to including Republicans in describing recent legislative accomplishments, he reawakened ideals of America that had been buried during the Trump administration: striving to solve knotty problems with kindness, gentility and respect toward the opposing party.

Amazingly, despite the rude shouts of a few unruly folks in the room, the president kept his cool and just smiled at the interruptions, moving on to his next point. He is a consummate gentleman and a true statesman.

Faith Frankel
Boonton, N.J.

To the Editor:

President Biden came across as a doddering octogenarian on autopilot and not presidential at all. The “sparring” was nothing more than weakly acknowledging the hecklers.

The State of the Union speech failed to address the many economic ills the country is facing and, therefore, failed to explain any remedies the Biden administration will pursue. Those economic concerns do not cease to exist when Mr. Biden fails to mention them.

In short, Mr. Biden’s State of the Union was anemic, which is analogous to the current U.S. economy. It was disappointing and anxiety-inducing.

Carol M. Finke
Ellicott City, Md.

To the Editor:

The U.S. Congress is not Britain’s House of Commons. We do not — and should not — have a tradition of heckling speakers, and I am growing tired of Republicans, hungry for attention and acclaim from their base, calling the president of the United States a liar. Should this happen in the future, the sergeant-at-arms must remove the offenders from the chamber.

I wish that we could make them stand in a corner in order to emphasize the juvenile nature of their behavior, but I would be satisfied with having them removed.

Barbara Barran

To the Editor:

Re “In Republican Response, Sanders Criticizes Biden’s Agenda as ‘Woke Fantasies’” (news article, Feb. 8):

After President Biden’s State of the Union address, which was interrupted with shouts of “liar” and worse from elected Republicans, I was looking forward to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s response. I was hoping for a rational Republican view, harkening back to Ronald Reagan and his contemporaries.

What we got instead was the new face of the Republican Party: anger, fear, doublespeak and denial. Governor Sanders preaches free speech, but then spews her policy ideas to do the opposite, like banning critical race theory in schools and preventing state documents from using the term Latinx. She accuses the Democrats of “trillions of reckless spending” but seems oblivious to the record deficits racked up by the Trump administration in which she served.

She accuses Democrats of weakness in dealings with foreign countries, but didn’t even mention Russia or Vladimir Putin, whom her former boss coddled and called a “genius” for invading Ukraine.

To be fair, the governor voiced legitimate concerns about border protection, a serious problem that disproportionately affects Southern states, including Arkansas. But if the Republicans want to regain credibility with American voters, they need to propose policy ideas based on facts, and stop peddling fear and lies.

David Weden
Dover, Mass.

To the Editor:

Hey, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you are absolutely right. The choice is “between normal or crazy.” And there’s only one party saying demonstrably crazy things.

Here’s a hint, Sarah. The name starts with an “R.”

C.A. Papapietro
Port Jefferson, N.Y.

A National Commission on the Police

Credit…Desiree Rios/The New York Times

To the Editor:

After the police killing of Tyre Nichols (and too many others over too many years), President Biden must establish a National Commission on Police and Community (à la the Kerner Commission, which investigated the causes of the 1967 urban riots).

The new commission should be charged with delineating what we need to know about the police-community relationship: where and how it is healthy and productive; what makes it go wrong in such lethal ways; and what works at making and keeping it better.

The nation desperately needs this conversation!

Basil J. Whiting
Winter Springs, Fla.
The writer is a retired public-sector executive, foundation program officer and consultant to nonprofits and business groups.

Knitting and Politics

Credit…Chelsea Cardinal

To the Editor:

Re “The Revolutionary Power of a Skein of Yarn,” by Peggy Orenstein (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 30):

I myself was fortunate to have been taught to knit at the age of 8. The craft has stood me in good stead. Now 77, I have knitted my way through lengthy plane trips, through endless time in waiting rooms of one kind or another, through 18 months of chemotherapy, and perhaps most precious of all, through countless boring faculty meetings.

No article on this subject can be complete without reference to the program Knit Democracy Together, founded by the Vermont artist and former election lawyer Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, who has found a way to knit together (sorry, couldn’t help that) this craft with political activism.

Needles clicking away, participants discuss the Electoral College, local ballot measures, increasing citizen participation and so forth. All that knitting and purling results in knitted replicas of state capitol buildings along with a better educated and more motivated citizenry.

The practice of “visible mending” is another way in which today’s crafters are creatively addressing planetary waste, reducing textiles that are thrown away.

Little old ladies? No, vibrant elders.

Laura-Lee Fineman Karp

The Secret Donor

Hody Childress and his daughter, Tania Nix. Mr. Childress made anonymous cash donations to the pharmacy Geraldine Drugs, helping neighbors struggling to pay for prescription medicine.Credit…Ronald Nix

To the Editor:

Re “Farmer Secretly Helped Neighbors Buy Medicine for More Than a Decade” (news article, Jan. 27):

How refreshing it was to read this story about an act of utter kindness and generosity in the midst of news of travesty and sadness that we hear day after day.

Thank you for sharing the story of Hody Childress and the anonymous gifts he gave to the needy in the small town of Geraldine, Ala. His daughter, Tania Nix, said: “I think he felt like he couldn’t notgive. Giving that way, that just got on his heart and he felt like he needed to do it.”

I suspect we need more examples of goodness and kindness to lift our spirits and give us some measure of hope and compassion to counter the negativity, violence and greed that unfortunately so dominate our world.

Leonard Korn
New Castle, N.H.

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