Kenneth Walsh's rosy recollection of the Reagan years in "The Most Consequential Presidential Elections" [October 13-20] omitted the numerous scandals (Iran-contra, Superfund, HUD) and indictments, which reached up the chain of command to Oliver North, Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, and John Poindexter, to name only a few. The savings and loan debacle and the truck bombing in Beirut killing 241 marines were eerily similar to today's events. With the mushrooming debt of the Reagan years, the big-government era was anything but over. Reagan's election might have been consequential, but not in the way I think any of us would like.
Chicago I generally find your articles, even the editorials, to be both evenhanded and informative. Your article on "The Most Consequential Presidential Elections" was both of those things but also uplifting. It reinforced my belief that this country's been through dark times like these before and will ultimately come out on the other side.
Michael Vincent Bushy
Falmouth , Mass. Your article on consequential presidential elections implies that 1863 Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg made Lincoln's 1864 re-election easy. But in late August 1864, Lincoln and most others believed he was headed for defeat because neither Richmond nor Atlanta had fallen. The fall of Atlanta Sept. 1-2, 1864, was the event that virtually assured Lincoln's victory. But he did not "easily [win] a second term." The shift of a mere 29,000 of the 4 million votes would have given McClellan a narrow victory.
Edward H. Bonekemper III
Adjunct Lecturer in Military History Muhlenberg College
Allentown , Pa. I read "The Most Consequential Presidential Elections." I found this article going right along with what I'm learning in eighth-grade American history. I have read about Washington, and I'm getting close to learning about Lincoln in my worksheets. If only one of those presidents were leading us now.