Regarding your articles on the charisma of Barack Obama and John McCain: Charisma is one of the most dangerous characteristics a candidate or president can have ["Every Prince Charming Has His Limits," March 17].
All too often it leads to groupthink and other decision-making problems. In fact, Irving Janis documented in his book Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes how John F. Kennedy's charisma helped cause the poor decisions leading up to the Bay of Pigs fiasco. There are many other examples of how a charismatic leader has led people into trouble because they just follow without thinking. Charisma is a good thing in a rock star, but we don't need a rock star in the White House. We need someone who can make good decisions based on solid information and careful thinking.
Senator Obama is young, attractive, charismatic, and offers a message of hope and change. Many of us are drawn to him and the prospect of what he may deliver. And then there's Senator McCain. He is older, his gestures are choppy, and his rallies are smaller and more subdued. And yet when I examine the lives and records of the two men, I come away with a different impression. Obama reminds one of fool's gold: Disappointment sets in when one scratches the shiny surface. With McCain, one may initially underestimate his worth, later realizing he is the real thing.
"McCain's Unscripted Inspiration" points out his lack of charisma. While accurate, McCain's problem is much deeper. His self-deprecating, almost apologetic manner of speaking makes listening to him for any length of time difficult, at best. It also raises questions as to how committed he is to what he advocates. He needs to become a more forceful speaker.
John W. Dowdle
Isle of Palms, S.C.