HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

October 13, 2008
From the Editor

John Turner


If I were a member of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a committee set up to help improve the schools in the Chicago area, I think I would be out of sorts with the McCain campaign. Barack Obama's membership on that committee is the source of the Republican charge that he has been palling around with terrorists because William Ayers was also a member. If that's the case, then all the Chicago citizens who served on the committee, all those who worked on committee efforts to make the schools better, are also guilty of palling around with terrorists. It would not be out of order for Obama to ask McCain directly if he is charging all the committee members with being sympathetic to terrorism. If McCain were to say, yes, he would be slamming quite a few people it's probably not in his best interest to alienate. But, then, if he were to say no, he would convict himself of lying.

On the terrorism front, I notice that Jeffrey M. Frederick, the head of the Virginia Republican Party has said that Obama is similar to Osama bin Laden. The McCain campaign can scarcely say that Frederick is one of the "occasional nuts" who speaks up for their candidate. He is, after all, the head of their party in a large state. McCain has no problem at all palling around with people like him.

Then, on the palling front, we perhaps should recall that the Republican vice presidential nominee has palled around with witch doctors and people who wish to dismember the United States through secession. But, I don't suppose it would be courteous to bring up anything like that.

I'm happy to see that Paul Krugman has won the Nobel Prize for Economics. I'm glad for Krugman alone, but it also pleases me to think of how Bill O'Reilly will take the news. Or, Tom DeLay. I wonder if the latter will come out with another classic remark, as when he called the award given for the discovery of ozone depletion the "Nobel Appeasement Prize."

I've been saddened to observe, lately, the disintegration of Pat Buchanan. Though I mostly disagree with his pronouncements, there have been times when he has said sensible things and he has generally displayed a likable personality. I doubt there's anyone in the country who has been hurt more by the advent of Sarah Palin than Pat Buchanan has. In deciding to become her fervent advocate he has revealed the worst aspects of his thinking. And his relations with Chris Matthews on Hardball have got so hostile I wonder if they can be repaired. Rachel Maddow continues, however, to be generous towards Buchanan, and says she enjoys their arguments. But, then, Rachel Maddow is generous with almost everyone.

One of the better lines of the week came from Joe Biden, when he said, "You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've been is a sidekick." I wonder who came up with that for him. Can such things ever be known?

The underreported story of the week was the continuing decline of conditions in Afghanistan. If you would like to know some of the horrifying details, read the substantial article by Anand Gopal, a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, which was published on the TomDispatch web site.

I was pleased to see Hillary Bok -- who writes under the name "Hilzoy," catch up Cokie Roberts for indulging in "stupid fake equivalency" on ABC's This Week. There's scarcely a more annoying habit than pretending to be objective by dredging up some minor exaggeration by Democrats supposedly to balance blatant lies by Republicans. Cokie does it frequently.

We are moving ever closer to the election. I guess I'll be glad to see it come and go, especially if it turns out as I think it will.


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