I take exception to David Von Drehle's Nov. 10 news analysis, "Welcome to the Democrats' Misreading." In a political climate seemingly saturated with demands from both parties to improve the education system, I find it mildly unjust to lavish praise on the party that demonizes intellectual reflection.

What the Democrats need is less stupidity, not more. They need, yes, the smartest kid in the class to get up there and change some minds. Somebody with faith that a rational American republic will respond if challenged to do so with the better argument.

The Democrats deserved to lose this election. Running a party that would rather lose an election of images than lose an election of ideas was not a function of excessive intelligence. It was a function of egregious ignorance.

GEROME ROTHMAN

London

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David Von Drehle referred to Ulysses S. Grant as a "last-in-their-class" type.

Not even close.

As the "American Experience" section of the PBS Web site notes, Grant "stood out in mathematics and horsemanship, which had always been his best subjects, as well as in art. . . . Ulysses graduated 21st out of 39 cadets in his class."

Grant was no scholar, but he was no dunce either. The prose of his field orders and his memoirs bespeaks a keen and orderly mind behind his quiet and modest demeanor.

By contrast, the dashing and charismatic George A. Custer, who might have done well on the campaign trail, did graduate last in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His failure to establish a viable political base among the Plains Indians, though, spared the republic a test of his electoral appeal.

CLARK IRWIN

Cumberland Foreside, Maine