HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

June 16, 2008
From the Editor

John Turner


On Tuesday, David Brooks lectured us about how we have become profligate, and on how thrift has disappeared from the American list of virtues. He's right, in a way, but he was basing his sermon on a report from the Institute for American Values which was signed by sixty-one of the institute's leading lights. I couldn't help wondering what the average income among this sixty-one was, and whether this was little more than the rich haranguing the poor about how they should be thrifty.

A story which continues to be underplayed in the American media is the resistance in the Iraqi parliament to a status of forces agreement with the United States. We do hear a bit about Maliki's reservations, but the general desire of Iraqis to rid their country of the American occupation is almost never mentioned. The visit of Nadeem Al-Jaberi and Khalaf Al-Ulayyan, two Iraqi parliamentarians, to testify before Congress didn't make it into the major media. While he was here, al-Jaberi said, "The anarchy and chaos in Iraq is linked to the presence of the occupation, not withdrawal from Iraq." This is an argument you almost never hear in the American news, and the failure of the press to report on Iraqi legislators' opinions is disgraceful.

Poll numbers came out showing Obama well ahead of McCain. I suspect that will continue to be true throughout the campaign, and though I don't want to get into the business of predicting outcomes, I wouldn't be surprised to see this one turn out to be a blowout. As the debate continues, McCain seems to be showing himself more and more as having nothing to offer the nation. In a way, he's the most vacuous candidate we've have in decades. And I think that will become widely evident.

In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank said that Bush is safe from impeachment because the nation is terrified by the thought of Cheney in the White House. That's probably part of the reason, but the main thing is few have the energy for an impeachment struggle, not even those who are fairly sure Bush is guilty of serious crimes.

On Friday, Paul Krugman's column was about conservative craziness concerning government inspection of the food supply. Our failure to insure food safety has hurt everyone, including the producers who have lost markets as a result. It's just one more instance from the Bush administration of ideology prevailing over reality.

I was saddened by Tim Russert's death on Friday. I often disagreed with him, but that means nothing when we see a vigorous life cut short.

I said to myself over the weekend that anyone who has paid even vestigial attention to the presidential campaign up till now has no need to listen to the candidates for the next few months. If you don't know which of the two candidates you prefer by now, there's something seriously wrong with your head. Even so, much as I might enjoy a vacation from politics over the summer, I suspect I'll keep on watching what McCain and Obama do and say in the remainder of June, and in July and August.

If you have interesting stories you want to tell, send them to us and we'll make them available to the whole world.


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