HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

March 5, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


Here in Vermont we continue to have cold weather and considerable accumulation of snow. Those conditions have raised fears of a flood in Montpelier. Walking downtown yesterday, I noticed that some merchants are advertising "pre-flood" sales. That's one way to get stuff to higher ground.

If we go past the middle of the month with no gradual warming we are likely, all of a sudden, to get a warm rain and, then, flooding probably couldn't be prevented. I feel for the storekeepers downtown. I'll let you know how it goes.

We seem to be in the era of never-ending presidential campaigning. Some commentators say that's good. It helps voters to get to know candidates better. Some say, it's simply a great bore, and that we'll be so tired of politics  by November 2008 that people will have tuned out on the whole thing. As for myself, I have no opinion. I don't even know, yet, which of the leading Democratic candidates I prefer. And I doubt I will know any time soon.

I saw Joe Lieberman on TV yesterday asking why we don't just put criticism of Bush's policies on hold, at least until the summer, to see whether the surge will work. And nobody screamed at him, "Because people are dying right now and will keep on dying between now and summer." It's a thought that doesn't seem able to penetrate Mr. Lieberman's brain.

The scandal about condition at Walter Reed Hospital is a good thing, and not just because it will probably improve, somewhat, conditions for the patients there. It shows us what the concerns of the current U.S. government are, and the more we learn about that the more we will understand that those concerns have to be changed.

On the TV talk shows, more and more, commentators are being asked whether there is a rift between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. No one is brave enough to say for sure, so they all answer, maybe. Those of us on the outside probably exaggerate the degree to which the president and vice-president are aware of what the other is doing.

I hope many of you saw Steve Kroft's interview last night on 60 Minutes with David Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States. Mr. Walker is on a campaign to let the people know that we are headed for financial disaster unless we change our policies with respect to paying for health care. We already spend about twice as much per person as most European countries do and get less effective results. Why do you suppose that is?

I read a good book last week, which I mentioned elsewhere on this site: Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. If you want to know what life was like for educated women in Iran during the first years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, you can find some startling revelations in Ms. Nafisi's pages.


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