HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

November 5, 2007
From the Editor

John Turner


Less than a week after the pundits of The McLaughlin Group declared Pakistan to be the world's most dangerous country, President Musharraf has suspended the constitution and is busily rounding up his enemies, including justices of the Supreme Court. Whether he can succeed with his power grab is in doubt. Condaleezza Rice has issued a mild remonstrance but says, of course, that the United States will not withdraw its military assistance -- terrorism, you know, trumps political decency. You might say that's the ruling doctrine of the Bush administration. Regardless of what we say, Musharraf will now be seen as even more our puppet, and consequently hatred of the United States will rise to new heights in the Muslim world. Thus, do we enhance our security. Perfect security will, I guess, be obtained when everyone outside our borders hates us perfectly.

I noticed that James P. Pinkerton of Newsday  says that Newt Gingrich is a better elder statesman than Al Gore. The reason? Gingrich is more optimistic. Viewing optimism as a virtue appears to be a peculiarly American habit. Americans have reverence for anybody who will tell them everything's going to be okay. This is supposed to be an admirable characteristic, but why I haven't yet heard anyone say.

I am in Bowling Green now and, therefore, cut off from internet access. On Saturday, I drove down to the Hardee County Public Library which is reputed to have free wireless internet service. The librarian assured me they did, but for some reason my computer couldn't find it. On the way home, I noticed a Best Western motel on Route 17, so I pulled into the parking lot and from there was able to send my messages easily. I don't know how often I can do this without drawing the suspicion of the local police. But, I'll keep trying and hope that I can get these speculations out to you.

I met with a goodly number of Floridians yesterday. Most of them are obsessed with mild weather. They regard it as the principal goal of life, and, consequently, can't imagine why anyone would think of living in Vermont. When I tell them that in Montpelier I can get a good cup of coffee and even buy a book, they stare at me, suspecting derangement, shake their heads and walk away.

It used to be that in Hardee County you could get the Tampa Tribune delivered to your door. But no more. The financial wizards at the Tribune decided not only to discontinue delivery but also to withdraw the Tribune from all stores hereabouts. As a result, I now walk a couple blocks every morning to the post office where there is a box with the Lakeland Ledger for sale. And guess what? The Ledger, which I had not read before, is a far better paper than the Tribune. I wouldn't go so far as to argue that it reaches heights of intellectual virtue (what newspaper does?) but at least the Ledger's editors seem able to imagine that some of their readers are not total blockheads. It's a notion that hasn't occurred to the folks at the Tribune.

The average mass of a vehicle in Hardee County is about 180% of the mass of a vehicle in Montpelier. As a consequence, it's hard to find my little Saab when I leave it in a large parking lot here. It subsides into ridges of giganticism. But, I need to remember that walking about for a quarter hour looking for it is good exercise. It allows me to eat more guava pie.

I'll set off, shortly, in search of an internet signal, and probably be able to find one, even if I have to risk the perils of the Best Western parking lot. And if I do, you'll learn that I'll be sending you my thoughts from here again next Monday.

In the meantime, write to us. We need in particular book reviews and notices about popular culture. And we'll use any you send us -- unless they are completely ghastly.


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