Interesting thought -- without Felt's leaks would Nixon have held on? And if he did, wouldn't that have led to a President Reagan in 1976 and left Jimmy Carter back in Georgia? Ford required the full power of the White House to hold off Reagan in the primaries. Would have an unelected Vice President have had the same power? Without Nixon's removal, would Carter have managed to get the Democratic nomination?
Ford ran a late-starting general campaign that still almost beat Carter at the last second. It seems much more likely that Ronald Reagan would have beaten Carter (or any other of the rather weak field of Democratic candidates in 1976). How different would events have been with a President Reagan instead of a President Malaise in the late '70s?
-- Leonard Speakman
There is no doubt now that Ben Stein is an egregious pandering hack. It is surprising that a magazine that seeks al least to be marginally credible would lend its masthead to such incredible twisted logic and further to use the tragedy of Cambodians in the service of making obviously inaccurate statements.
Ben Stein alleges that Nixon would have prevented the fall of South Vietnam. This, if you are in any way aware of the history of Vietnam and the war, is completely ridiculous. Nixon began the troop withdrawals from Vietnam, Nixon initiated the talks that led to the final resolution of the American presence in Vietnam. Stein, and you, undoubtedly know that no matter what happened domestically to Nixon he would not have reintroduced American troops into Vietnam in 1975.
Ben Stein alleges that Nixon would have prevented the KR from taking over Cambodia. This is a bald faced lie and you and Stein both should know it, and undoubtedly do, as pandering is the goal isn't it? Nixon initiated the bombing of Eastern Cambodia that led to the increases in support for the KR that finally enabled them to succeed. Nixon is also the one who "went to China." Who were the major supporters of the KR? Hmmmm. Maybe in your limited ability to think beyond domestic policy concerns you are ignorant of the fact that it was China. Nixon would have brokered with China over the little brown people in Cambodia? I do not think so, and you undoubtedly know it too.
Egregious pandering. Pretty sorry stuff.
-- Vance Geiger
In "Deep Throat and Genocide," Ben Stein perhaps distills down to its most macabre, the consequences, intended or otherwise, of the opportunistic lynching of President Richard Nixon and the deadly diversion it created.
In their political bloodlust, the detractors of United States efforts in Southeast Asia spared no "tool" to inflict whatever injury they could to the military and political/diplomatic machinations of the U.S. in our confrontation with the blatant design for the subjugation of millions to the communist yoke.
No, they could not support any semblance of "Peace with Honor" anymore than they could a foster a U.S.-led military repulsion of the communist juggernaut. No "victory" of any kind could be afforded a Republican president, especially one who did his best to live up to JFK's noble mantra of "pay any price,... bear any burden."
So it was that the Democrats, in league with other willing accomplices at home and aboard (read John Kerry, John Dean, et al) set out to justify their actions by cloaking themselves in robes of faux righteousness.
Oh, but their award-winning "performances" had scores lining up to join their ranks back then, much as we see thousands of the clueless line up for the oft-times septic offerings of Hollywood, a cliquedom that was fronted by the likes of Jane Fonda, who, despite recent mea culpas, fouled her own nest by perching on the hardware of an enemy who was more than glad to feed her narcissism.
Unfortunately, and that is hardly a term that conveys the truly awesome gravity of what took place in the Asian Holocaust that followed, millions of Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Laotians paid with their lives, the price for those whose myopic perspective was, and still is shaped by a charlatanesque image of themselves.
God help those in the rest of the world who look to the United States for inspiration and hope for their liberation from tyranny, regardless of its stripe, especially if it looks like a Republican president may actually be preparing to answer their call. Look not only across the border or far across the seas to find some of this country's most vehement foes, keep in mind the deeds of those who, as Ben Stein has suggested, have a date with karma, and who live amongst us. They are perhaps most recognizable by their aversion to discussion of the price paid for their words and deeds of some decades ago, and by the multitude of ghostly voices they ignore, voices of the innocent souls whose only crime was to believe that we would deliver them from the jaws of communism. Little did they suspect that American political one-upmanship would lead them to their deaths in such staggering numbers.
Ben Stein said it best, "Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now."
-- Jim Yost
Spring Valley, California
P.S. I am married to a survivor of Cambodia's "Killing Fields." Unlike many, I know what I'm talking about on this issue.
Ben hit the nail right on the head. Why is it that the rest of the world cannot see this? You ask people why Nixon was impeached. They answer because of Watergate... that terrible... dreadful Watergate. Yet NOBODY thinks it's terrible or dreadful that Hillary made off with 400 FBI files. That's okay. And, why is it that the Watergate files were stolen? What information were they seeking? If I recall, it was just so that Nixon could find out what they were saying about him.
On the other hand, don't you have to wonder why those 400 FBI files were taken? And, I personally wonder if that isn't the reason DeWine and Voinovich, Senators from my state of Ohio, didn't betray the GOP. Was there something in those files that the Democrats had on those two that made them turn on President Bush? Guess we will never know unless another upstanding Deep Throat "who only has the good of this country at heart" steps forward.
-- Sharon C. Gingerich
Another observation that relates to the political landscape today since then is that there are many sorts of Republicans in the big tent from the "vast right wing" clear to those leaning liberal, particularly in the Northeast and others in pockets of the nation, some of whom are commonly known as RINO republicans. In contrast, if you look at the (so called) Democratic Party you will be hard pressed to find even one conservative member such as the outgoing Zell Miller. Indeed, the Democratic Party knows but one step to march in and that is to be out of step with the majority of America. All this despite the massive effort to make it politically incorrect to verbalize support of our late President Richard M. Nixon.
May God Continue to Bless America!
-- Kathy Jamison
While I appreciate Mr. Stein's missive, I felt that there was some fault of logic in his thinking. Not being a philosophy major, I would not know but it does seem that "A" doesn't necessarily lead to "B."
Reflecting on his approach to history, if it were not for Watergate we would not have had Jimmy Carter who then led to Ronaldus Magnus who had the leadership to bring down the "Evil Empire" freeing millions of people held captive for decades. It doesn't negate Cambodia's holocaust, but is it not a legitimate perspective, too?
Maybe it's all just the law of unintended consequences.
-- Rick Osial
Richard Nixon, peacemaker? That's laughable. Nixon ran for the presidency in 1968 claiming to have a "secret plan" to end the war. His plan obviously included extending it to Cambodia, leading to the takeover by Pol Pot. He ran on the same promise four years later. More people died in Southeast Asia while he was president than under Johnson. To claim JFK's and Clinton's lies about sex were worse than Nixon is simply stupid. It is people like Ben Stein who have supported an attack on Iraq based on lies -- as proven by the British 2002 memo -- that are responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent people as well as 1,650 Americans killed and more than 12,000 wounded. That's genocide -- and the Ben Steins of the world are responsible for allowing it to happen.
-- David Fisher
Thanks for the perspective on President Nixon and Deep Throat. I can especially appreciate the simple questions. What was the purpose of Watergate? Really? And what did Nixon really do? I imagine you will receive an enormous share of "negative" comments from your op-ed piece. Oh well. It's a big desert in which you are shouting. But you're not alone. Thanks for all the support you give to us in the military.
-- Jerry Driscoll
Praise to Ben Stein. Let him elaborate more and get this article out to as many people as possible. He has nailed it. I heard about this article on Limbaugh's show. This is my first visit to your site. I will return. Way to go BEN!!!
-- Fred Turner
When they were still new, and I was a child, I read Dr. Tom Dooley's books. As a result I was fully engaged when our country went to South Vietnam's aid. What I saw of the Vietnamese people during my year of duty there didn't change my mind one iota. Returned to the U.S., I didn't understand the negative reporting and antagonism on the TV. The UN partitioned Vietnam into two countries because the tyrants in Hanoi did incredibly cruel things to people who resisted their methods.
Dooley exposed a little of that situation long before we became embroiled in the war.
I was "in country" when President Nixon directed our military to clean up the supply routes the Viet Cong were using in Laos or Cambodia. The shouts of acclaim from the men around me when the news broke would give the New Year's Eve celebrants in Time Square something to think about, believe me!
So, as I often find is true, I am in full agreement with Mr. Stein's perspective on this situation.
-- Fred Clark
Ben, I could not have said it better. Well done, councilor.
-- Jonathan H. Dougherty
Albany, New York
Thank you Mr. Stein for putting into print the "truth" in regards to President Nixon.
-- J.D. Terry
Ft. Mojave, Arizona
I have been amused by the constant references to Nixon's foul language, anti-Semitism and hateful, conspiratorial talk about his enemies. Boy, is Hillary ever in trouble!
Seriously though, I was in college during the Nixon years and heard a lot worse said about Nixon than he ever said about anyone else. Does anything that he said begin to compare with the loony leftist allegations made about the Bush Administration?
Hypocrisy is such an ugly process, and no one does it better than a liberal.
-- Jim Colton
I understand all of the good things that Nixon did in his terms of office. He had many great achievements both home and abroad.
There is some question as to how far one is allowed to go to promote any agenda. Is it okay for me to obey only nine of the Ten Commandments because I'm breaking one of them for the good of the other nine? Is it okay to be a Christian toward some but not toward others because I disagree with something for which they stand? Is it okay to kill others in order to show that killing is wrong? What about the Crusades?
Even Jesus gave his own life to uphold that conceding one truth for the sake another was not the proper path. Not to sound cliche, but we cannot stand on the idea that the ends justify the means. Otherwise, we have to say what did Bill Clinton do that was so wrong? Whatever he did in his personal life it was managed separately from the office he held and the country prospered under his administration. Does that mean he didn't have an obligation as a role model for the country? What about evangelical icons, most notably Baker, who have admitted affairs but try and tell others how lives should be lived? How do we look at the Inquisition? Is there a loss of credibility when these human shortcomings become public?
All decisions we make reflect on all other decisions. Valid or not, a bad decision that draws attention causes people to question the ability of that person to make decisions in all other areas. This is shown throughout many historical events that are retrospectively viewed as improper.
We all need to be careful about the way we conduct ourselves so that we are a representation of what we uphold. If we say one thing and then show the opposite by our actions, we will be subject to scrutiny in all areas of what we profess regardless of the truth and fact of or message.
We are not as forgiving as we should be in this society. However, depending on our individual points of view, it appears that with some people, namely Ben Stein, that some agendas supersede the need to follow the rules.
Thank you for your time and indulgence,
-- Brian Chamberlin
Now that we know the FBI disposed of one president, isn't it time to wonder if Hoover really did finally have enough of John Kennedy?
-- William L. Roughton, Jr.
Fairfax Station, Virginia
I do not I have seen a more deceitful article on Richard Nixon than Ben Stein's "Deep Throat and Genocide." It decries the deposition of that President because "he was a peacemaker." Not only that, he accuses Nixon's enemies of having the blood of the South Vietnamese and the Cambodians on his hands. I think this interpretation is nonsense, or to use a better word, "revisionism."
Let us be clear. Nixon did not end the war, as Ben Stein states. What he and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did was negotiate a compromise with Le Duc Tho -- then foreign minister for North Vietnam. This allowed the Americans to withdraw their troops while saving face. In doing so, they sold out the South Vietnamese government of Nguyen Van Thieu. Over his objections, the Americans and the North Vietnamese agreed to leave a lot of VC (Viet Cong) held territory as is. This in practice meant a lot of strategically important territory was left in VC hands in the Mekong and the Highlands. They were places one could put supply caches for the NVA (North Vietnamese Army), and such territory helped the NVA win the war.
What was left was an intermittent, small intensity war between the North and the South. I consider this war, even if Ben Stein doesn't. I personally know or have met people who have fought in this war. This continued until early 1975, well after Nixon's resignation. But since Americans weren't directly involved, the American electorate were content. Having VC bases around the country led to people being killed, but Nixon and Kissinger didn't care. In their minds, the death of one American soldier was far more important to them than the deaths of 10 Vietnamese.
The war wasn't ended by Richard Nixon, as Ben Stein states. In practice, it was ended by General Van Tien Dung of the NVA. His "Blossoming Lotus" maneuver through and around Buon Ma Thuot in the highlands forced the ARVN to retreat. And since the opposing general responsible (Cao Van Vien) was so incompetent as to choose a non-existent highway for a retreat route, and his army collapsed as a result. The war was won a mere few months later by North Vietnam. And yes, they won it. If the United States has to evacuate its own embassy and workers, how could they be considered to have won it?
I would blame Pol Pot and his cadres for the mass murders of the Khmer Rouge. However, I would assign a lot of the blame to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger for making their success even possible in the first place. Before 1970, Cambodia was a neutral, relatively stable monarchy, and the KR was a minor player. During Nixon's tenure, Cambodian Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed in favour of General Lon Nol. While there is little proof that the U.S. were behind this, the people of Cambodia were tempted to see him as a U.S. proxy. The massive bombing of Cambodia by the USAF also left a lot of people killed, homeless, or disaffected with the government. In effect, they created the conditions for ready recruitment by the Khmer Rouge. And as the Bible tells us, if you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. In a mere five years, the KR controlled the country.
Finally, if Mr. Stein says, "RN would never let [the Khmer Rouge] happen," I could only be amazed at his naivete. Remember that one of Nixon's greatest successes was building a relationship with Communist China. Remember also that the Khmer Rouge were Maoist, and were closely allied with China. I really, really doubt that Nixon would have jeopardize new relations with China by making noise about Khmer Rouge atrocities. I am certain that Kissinger never would.
I will defend Nixon in one respect. He actually pushed "Vietnamization," the enabling of the ARVN (the South Vietnamese Army) to hold their own against the NVA (the Army of the North), while withdrawing American troops. That was a bloody good idea, and in fact the ARVN ended up far more disciplined than they were a decade earlier. If only the process could have been started under President Johnson.
However, I cannot defend Ben Stein's article on him at all. I live in Vietnam, and have done so for two years. I even speak a little of the language, and am engaged to a very fine woman from that country. Has Ben Stein ever lived there? Has he even visited? Does he know the language at all? Does he even care about the people? I doubt it. He finds them more convenient to uses them as props to "guilt-trip" the liberals, rather than as living, breathing humans with their own motivations. Well, I've got news for you. My fiancee's family like America, and they like Americans, and they are grateful that the U.S. gave some of their family members refugee states. But none of them like Nixon at all. It's nothing to do with left or right. They just know a crook when they see one.
-- Down and Out in Saigon
Ben is right on the money. I've long been an admirer of RN. Dick Nixon is in heaven.
-- Lyle Lynch
Please remind your columnist, Ben Stein, that Richard M. Nixon was guilty of subverting the Constitution of the United States of America, a document he was sworn to uphold and protect.
W. Mark Felt is a true hero, for exposing the corruptions which threatened to alter our society irrevocably. Richard M. Nixon, on the other hand, was a deranged lunatic with a thirst, a hunger, for power and control.
As Ben Stein notes, what he did was lie. And he lied about his involvement in crimes. For Bill Clinton, the proper course was to impeach him. Yet Mr. Stein would have us not just forgive, but FORGET that Nixon committed his crime.
Lies, distortions, and fabrications aren't winning this reader over. Your site was linked in a forum or I doubt I would have ever stumbled across this. Rest assured, however, that I will now go out of my way not only to avoid you, but to advise others to avoid your publication.
I will also be contacting advertisers on your site to advise that they withdraw their ads not only from your website, but from any print media or video which your company is involved in. Not everyone will sit silently while people like Mr. Stein attempt to rewrite the facts of history.
Have a nice day.
-- Snowboarder Bo
Once again Mr. Stein hits the nail directly on the head. Felt and his family should rot in hell; he for what he did to the country, they for wanting to make money off his crime.
-- Andy Grego
Mr. Stein's article shows why he is one of the great intellects in America. Succinct, he wields his thoughts using the rapier of brevity to drive home his point. Bravo Sir!
It is a sad thought to me that America's sense of right and wrong tumbled after Richard Nixon's presidency ended. Just 16 years later, we elected the likes of Bill Clinton. Of course, in his administration, an operative with the name "Deep Throat" would probably have gotten a lot of "face time"â€¦
I still remember the days before Nixon's resignation as one of the bleakest days of my life. I can only compare it with leaving Cuba. I was so sad, that my husband had an opportunity to work in another country and I said "yes." I did not want to be part of this society that so cruelly and blinded hounded one of the best Presidents we ever had. As it is said in the article, what did Nixon do? Lying to protect his friends? I do believe that if Nixon had stayed in power, the North Vietnamese would have towed the line, but the Democrats of this country were oblivious to the suffering of the Vietnamese as well as disrespecting the loss of lives in the conflict. The smearing campaign, the disrespect to our returning heroes. It was a real tragedy and one that I will never forget, especially at the time of selecting who my next President will be and what his politics are.
Thank you for this article. It is never too late. I hope that finally Nixon's place in history is correct.
-- Maggie Mustelier
Ben Stein seems to have a bit of selective memory. If he doesn't remember what Richard Nixon's great crime was, maybe he should start by picking up any book in the library about Watergate. The men who were involved in this "ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose" were charged with attempted burglary, and attempted interception of telephone and other conversations. This was not just some random burglary, but rather an attempt to bug the Democratic headquarters by men who were salaried by the Nixon reelection committee. Whether or not you believe that the knowledge of this political espionage went all the way up to Nixon himself (and there was enough evidence of that for Nixon himself to resign), this was an attack on democracy itself. These men didn't dare trust the American people to choose who they wanted to be President, so they decided to rig the game in their favor. In other words, they were trying to cheat at democracy. That is Nixon's legacy. Not "ending the war in Vietnam," which is a laughable statement to say the least; that legacy belongs to Sen. John Kerry (who I'm sure you are more than willing to defame), and the 2,000 Vietnam veterans who marched on Washington, D.C. (who you had better not dare defame). Nixon goes down in history as the man who loved the power of his job so much, he didn't dare trust his future to democracy.
-- SSgt. David Reavis
Is this true? Does Silent Coup really place the Watergate fiasco at the feet of John Dean? The same John Dean, surfeit with righteous indignation, whose recently penned book judged the Bush administration "worse than Watergate"? That same John Dean? Hmm, interesting. Well, I'm off to B&N or EBay to find a copy of this dusty old literary gem. If true, I'll forward it to Mr. Stein who will, I hope, sharpen his pencil to eviscerate (literarily) Mr. Dean and enshrine him in the pantheon of world-class hypocrites. P.S. some titles for Mr. Stein's opus; "The Powerful and the Sexy," "Sexual Politics" (oops! already used), "Bill Burkett's Secret File Revealed," "Mo, I Hardly Knew Ye."
-- A. DiPentima
I agree 100% with Ben Stein article on Nixon and the crime committed by Mark Felt that ended the good deeds of our most phenomenal leader, President Nixon.
Our media and the leftist establishment have had a major trouble with Richard Nixon exactly because of Alger Hiss. This worthless anti-American person was militantly defended by organized underground haters of Nixon. Even today, Bush is afraid of saying that Felt is a criminal because lots of his neocon friends are leftover Nixon haters.
A well-written article. But, one thing is missing -- we need to make an example of Mark Felt and prosecute him for the laws he broke. Two wrongs do not make a right. It has always been the leftist contention that their cause gets a pass. They do not have to be bound by the laws of the land. That is not the case! This guy should be locked up until he dies. He is not a hero; he is a traitor and a fool.
Talk about putting things in perspective -- your article did it. Thank you, sir. You are beloved in our household.
-- Lance Hamner
The logic of Stein's June 1 commentary blaming Mark Felt and the Washington Post for making possible the genocide in Cambodia is extraordinary.
Stein may not be aware, but had Kenneth Starr not diverted Clinton's attention so darn much about... who remembers now anyway? Clinton would have pursued terrorism that was at the top of Janet Reno's to-do list. Thus, Kenneth Starr made the 9/11 attacks possible.
I know the logic is more than a little fallible. But draw a diagram of the analogies with Stein's argument, and you will have parallel absurdities.
-- Chris Cronin
Boo-hoo. Now I feel so sad. The lying, conniving Dirty Dickster was really a Peace & Love Sixties flower child at heart. How foolish of us not to have recognized that the mad bomber of Cambodia, the man during whose administration more Americans died in Viet Nam than under anyone else's (notwithstanding his 1968 campaign promise of a secret plan to end the war), was really an American Gandhi. Apparently so many of us were horribly wrong to consider him to be merely aptonymic. On the other hand, Ben does make the case why the current occupant of the White House has indisputably assumed the title, "Worst President Ever." George W. Bush has accomplished only the death and destruction hallmarks of the late lamented (but only by the unrepentant few) Dick, while showing contempt for any effort toward even Nixonian diplomacy and gelding the Dickster's EPA . Thanks, Ben, for reminding us how relatively well we had it when a merely common criminal was President.
Wow! Ben's got quite a memory: "Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible?" Is Ben developing Alzheimer's? Pretty soon, he'll be asking about that Hitler guy. What was so terrible about that guy who was so patriotic and just wanted to take his country out of depression and create a united Europe?
-- Dumbfounded in California (a.k.a. Charlie Martin)
How refreshing to read something so eloquently put in this day and age. My wife and I admire Mr. Stein's work very much, he is obviously both articulate and intelligent. He tempers his logic and writing with a refreshing lack of political correctness, something to be cherished in this day and age. Please convey my remarks to him.
-- David S. Lever
Generally, when I think SPECIAL REPORT I think of a well-researched article that points out the pros and cons of a particular issue. Mr. Stein's report is simply based on HIS Opinion and His opinion ONLY! This is an Op/Ed piece not a Special Report as advertised!
-- Richard Ridgeway
The Editor replies:
"Mr. Stein's report is simply based on HIS Opinion and His opinion ONLY!" And that's not "special" enough for Mr. Ridgeway?
HEAVY TO THE METAL
Re: Eric Peters's Just You Weight:
I am not an expert on horseracing but don't all the jockeys get weighed prior to the race AND aren't the lighter jockeys given a few extra pounds strapped to the saddle? I thought they did this so that horses with lighter jockeys did not get a weight advantage.
I think Danica Patrick is terrific but I tend to agree that body weights should be equalized. It wouldn't be hard to do with a few deadweights placed in the same place in each car.
-- Gail Lammers
Eric Peters, in his article about Danica Patrick, states that her car is one mile per hour faster than the others because of her weight. I question that this can be determined by considering her weight alone. I contend she is at a DISadvantage because she has 100 lbs. less down force. Could this be equalized by taking away 100 lbs of down force from the big guys? The real difference in her speed and theirs is quite possibly the weight of her foot rather than her total weight. At 225 to 230 MPH, it would seem rather easy to make a difference by how she drives. After all 1/230th is not a huge advantage. You will notice that in NASCAR Ryan Newman wins more pole positions than the other drivers. Is it because he weighs only half as much? I think not. I say give the lady her due and give the other drivers that cry about her so-called advantage a box of Kleenex. I would be willing to bet that if the cars in any race were equalized as to the total full tank curb weight with driver, the same drivers would still be the most consistent winners.
Yes I am a male, but I think the lady is one hell of a driver.
-- Jim Slack
Ms. Patrick's "advantage" resulting in her finishing fourth, not first. Why? Because she almost ran out of fuel (less than a gallon, or one laps worth). She was directed to back off, and like the pro she is, did so -- if her weight amounted to a 1 hp advantage, it should have likewise increased her fuel mileage, right? So much for the mystically weight advantage. Incidentally, how much does Dan Wheldon weigh, more or less than finisher #2 or #3? Better put the FBI on this one. Is it so hard to enjoy the success of another, especially in such a mentally and physically demanding avocation as an open wheel racer where the drivers weight is but one of the multitudinous factors that can determine finishing first?
Get a Life.
-- C. T. Botkin
Tell Eric Peters to get a life. He has been around big government too long. We have 435 individuals in D.C. thinking up new ways to regulate us. That's enough rulemaking. Stay out of this sport. Or, should we equalize the weight of all hitters in the major leagues? I guess then we'd change the length of a hit, to see if it was a single, a double. Dumb.
-- Bob Hawkins
Precisely. Great idea, equalize the weight of the cars. Definitely. Then, too, of course, we should turn our attention to the NBA where taller players have an unfair advantage. We should make them carry extra weight so they can't jump any higher than shorter players. And think of what we can do in track. Small, skinny long distance runners have a natural advantage over 250 pound linemen. So we should load up the skinny runners with extra weight. And in the rifle and pistol shooting events. Better eyesight is obviously an unfair disadvantage. So we should give the eagle eyed special spectacles. Oh the possibilities! Anything for fairness!
While Danica Patrick might have a weight advantage on the track she does not have the advantage of upper body strength. Racing a car at well over 200mph requires the driver to withstand tremendous amounts of G-Force. This is compounded by the fact that the driver is in the car for up to two hours. This requires strength and stamina throughout the whole of the upper torso. Similar issues have been surfaced regarding women as fighter pilots, where the forces can be even more extreme. The fatigue that results from these forces impacts driver reaction time and any mistakes resulting are magnified at high speed. I would be more worried by the safety issues posed than by the potential gain in speed.
-- Ron Pettengill
London, United Kingdom
On Eric Peters's article, the obvious thing for IRL and NASCAR to do is what they do with horses in racing -- add weights to the car to even out the chances. It is not the weight of the driver alone which is the question but the combined weight of the car and the driver.
-- Philip Sandstrom
Two words: hire jockeys. (I also note that Jackie Stewart was a slight fellow and no one quibbled about his lack of heft.)
-- John McGinnis
This is a silly article. So she has a weight advantage. And males have a strength advantage. And what about males that are 120 pounds or less? You handicap them too? I guess you could change the rules to do like in horse races and consider the total weight. But until then stop griping. I saw the race, she was lucky; she did not run a good race. If not for chance she would have finished in the back, so what is all the fuss? Let her run and see what happens. She needs all the advantages she can get.
So, if I understand Mr. Peters and Robby Gordon correctly, every driver (save one) is to be burdened with some extra ballast, such that the total weight of each driver and his ballast will match the weight of the heaviest driver.
I didn't hear Robby's quote, so I'm not sure he said exactly that, but I'm sure that was his intent. Or, possibly, all the heavy drivers are to go on a "rigid starvation diet" in order to get down to 100 lbs. by next May.
Keep whining Robby and Eric, and you'll be watching a starting grid of 33 one-hundred-pound women revving their engines in some future Indy 500.
-- Rich Renken
The author is correct. In Formula 1 (the pinnacle of open wheel racing) the cars are to weigh 605kg with the driver. They can be weighed after the race and usually it's done with the fuel drained and other fluids drained as well. The driver is weighed before and after the race, to account for some fluid loss (of the driver) during the race. The car cannot weigh less than 605kg after the race, drained of fluids, with the driver in the car.
What this means is that all cars are ballasted to achieve a minimum weight, and therefore the cars are equalized to accommodate the differing weights of the drivers. The lightest driver in F1 is about 60Kg and the heaviest is around 85 Kg. In Formula 1 a difference of 5kg (about 11 pounds) would be a very significant advantage around a road-racing course.
I don't follow IRL so much, I did prefer the CART series, but the IRL-CART split in 1995/96 ruined the American open wheel scene for me. Indeed, IRL needs to ballast the cars so they weigh the same, with the driver on board.
-- Art Iverson
I do think that NASCAR has a weight rule, kind of like horse racing. All the cars have to weigh the same with driver in the seat. They have weights that are added to the car.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas
Mr. Peters says, "...driver skill determines the winner...", but goes on to say that a lighter driver establishes an unfair advantage. I know that if I were a team owner, I would find the best dwarf driver I could and to hell with the competition, they'd wise up soon enough.
-- Peter A. Kerns
Chatham, New Jersey
Mr. Peters is either not the auto racing expert that he claims to be or he is sloppy in his explanation the weight advantage of Danica Patrick. First, it has long been a point of contention that NASCAR unlike the IRL sets their vehicle weight minimums with the driver in the car, not the car alone as the IRL does. As such, drivers like Robby Gordon, Paul Tracy, and others have long cited the differential advantages.
Second, the majority of drivers, successful and otherwise, are both shorter than average and lighter than average. Drivers the size of R. Gordon, D. Jarrett, M. Waltrip, P. Tracy, etc., are a decided minority. Among the smaller, lighter drivers would be Jeff Gordon, Bobby LaBonte, etc., and even Dale Earnhardt Sr. who were not 6 feet-plus, 200 pounders, but who have won a few NASCAR championships among them. It should also be noted that there are several women driving in the world of stock cars with little controversy, exactly because the cars are weighed with the driver in them.
The big difference in Danica Patrick seems to be her decisiveness and willingness to take a risk for a big reward. She has talent. She has the fire in the belly to succeed. She has charisma. She is an attractive young lady. She will be a big winner on AND off the track -- a star. A chance in Formula 1 in 4 or 5 years is not out of the question for her.
-- Ken Shreve
While we're at it, let's lower the basketball goals.
No reason MJ should have an advantage because he is taller than other people. We should have track stars wear weight belts making track events fair. Boxers with shorter reach should be able to have gloves with extensions built in.
Women have finally broken into another sport and are competitive with men and we can't deal with it so we try to find a way to handicap them. If these guys (fat old white men, a club I belong to) can't continue to compete in racing they can play baseball. Curling is becoming quite popular.
Drag racing has had women drivers for years. Grow up and deal with it guys. Big boys don't cry.
-- Corwin E. Crowley
Well, Eric, if I understand you right we should install some sort of weigh in for all of the drivers and then penalize those under a set weight. I suppose those drivers over the set weight should be allowed to take some weight off of their cars.
Why haven't we heard about this issue before? I'm sure many drivers over the years have weighed significantly less than others. Could it be that the whiners of the pack finally have a WOMAN who can legitimately compete and they are afraid of what that will do to their sport?
I say Danica has every right to drive and will bring much needed attention to a sport that it getting blasted by NASCAR.
-- Don Morris
Wouldn't a driver who weighs 145 lbs. have an advantage over Robby Gordon (at 205 lbs.)? There are plenty of drivers at the 145-lb. range (including Mr. Kanaan). Has Mr. Peters ever seen Jimmy Kite?!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a "Danica" fan. I think she's attractive. I think she's a good driver. I just don't like her personality or attitude -- or the free pass she's getting for her screw-up spin under the yellow. I don't like Robby Gordon or Tony Stewart either. They all share this "entitled" persona -- and that drives me crazy. Obnoxious is obnoxious and they are all obnoxious and spoiled -- not an uncharacteristic trait in the modern-day athlete.
-- Todd C. Meyer
Your article shows that you are most familiar with NASCAR drivers, who are typically hulking bundles of muscle. The great open-wheel drivers are typically much smaller and lighter weight than Robby Gordon. The great Alain Prost, in fact, four-time Formula One world champion, was exactly the same height and weight as I am: 5 feet, 4 inches, and 130 lbs. Danica Patrick is not appreciably shorter or lighter than the average open-wheel male champion, be he F1, Champ Car or IRL.
If Robby Gordon thinks that big men can't win races against little men (or girls), ask him to explain how Paul Tracy ever won a championship against smaller, lighter-weight men, including teammates in identical machinery.
Robby Gordon doesn't want to risk getting whupped by a girl. That's his only problem, in my opinion.
-- Kate Shaw
Indy car drivers have gotten smaller over the years. Very few approach the weight of A.J. Foyt. The rules govern the weight of the car without driver. So, any race in the history of Indy that was won by any driver who weighed less than any of his competitors is suspect, using your logic.
On the IRL website, it lists the weight of 21 of the 22 drivers in the series. If you take out Danica Patrick, the average weight per driver is 150.35 lbs. If Robby Gordon is "spotting her 105 lbs," then that means he weighs 205. He needs to shut up and go on a diet. He outweighs the heaviest driver that I found by 40 lbs.
If you want to equal the playing field, change the weight rule to include the driver. Natural selection has already solved this issue to some extent, because very few competitive drivers weigh what Foyt and Unser used to weigh.
-- Jay Langan
I find this idea of an "unfair advantage" by Danica Patrick to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. How can any driver consider themselves a true professional athlete or competitor if they think any physical advantage is unfair. That is the idea of sports, survival of the fittest in a time constrained contest. It is supposed to be a physical competition with the express purposes of using physical advantages to win. Just because a bunch of "bloated" guys got their racing license from their family name or money, instead of talent, doesn't mean they should be exempt from the same principles of competition that are rampant in every other sport. If this is such an advantage, why aren't these racing teams scouting for lighter talent? Have they never seen the size of the jockeys at a horse race and wondered why they are smaller?
The whole idea of Danica being penalized for being lighted amazes me. How can ANY true conservative be espousing regulation in the name of "fairness" over the competition of the free market in any situation? Is the NFL team with the heaviest offensive line penalized for their advantage? Are baseball pitchers who can throw the ball faster made to move back to keep everything "fair" for the batters? If Danica has an advantage over the other drivers because of her weight, then the answer is for the other teams to find lighter drivers with talent. I have seen plenty of racers over the years who could drive well and weighted in the 120-140 lb. range. For a bunch of guys over 200 lbs. who are obviously overweight and out-of-shape, to be complaining about the physical advantage of another driver, and saying that they should be subsidized for being fat, shows why IRL racing has been out of favor for so many years. People watch sports for competition and determination, not touchy-feely fairness and equality.
One of the main reasons Lance Armstrong has dominated the Tour de France is that his cancer and its treatment caused him to drop about 20 lbs. from his baseline weight -- yet his cycling power remained at the same level. There is no outcry about "cheating" or calls for Lance to lug around an extra 20 lb. weight to level the playing field for everyone else. Other Indy drivers have the right to weigh as much or as little as they like; and should accept the consequences and benefits accordingly.
-- Bill Vellon
Legitimate gripe? Maybe. Sour grapes? Yep. Regardless the girl is good and good for the sport. They need the marketing she can create if they ever want to position themselves with the likes of NASCAR, of which I am not a fan.
-- Matthew C. Bolton
BERNSTEIN'S REPORT CARD
Re: George Neumayr's Felt Pen:
I enjoyed reading George Neumayr article on the paper naming Felt by Chase Culeman-Beckman. There is no small irony in the fact the Bernstein had to conduct his own cover up to protect Felt's identity. Saw Culeman-Beckman on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," sharp kid! Wonder how his former teacher feels today.
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