HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

December 8, 2008
From the Editor

John Turner


From looking at some of the items here, you'll see that I've been away from Vermont for quite a while. But now I'm about ready to go home, and I'm glad, though I'll probably be running into weather less pleasant than what I've had lately. There's something about home that allows the mind to work better, or at least differently, than when you're away.

I haven't had much to say about politics lately. Obama seems to be behaving himself well during the transition, and appointing reasonable people to the important offices in his administration. We'll have to wait and see how they do. It will depend to a considerable extent on him. A president needs to set a certain tone during his time in office, and to select people who can understand what his basic policies require. Cabinet officers have to have some independence. You can't expect a president to make every decision. But he does have to let people know what's out of bounds. I suspect Obama will be be fairly good at that.

Much recovery from our previous behavior is required. If Obama can get that across, without getting the country mad at him, he will have done the major thing we need.

Both Frank Rich and Thomas Friedman had fairly good columns about recovery in the New York Times yesterday. Rich reminds us that the term "best and brightest," made notable by David Halberstam, was supposed to be ironic. We forget at our peril that people who climb to the top of whatever heap they decide to inhabit often do so because of a lack of imagination rather than a possession of it. And Friedman tells us, for perhaps the hundredth time that the energy crisis will not simply disappear; it has to be solved.

We should have a better government next year than we've had for quite a while. But no government is a miracle worker. There may be such things as miracles but they're not involved in political business. So, we need patience as well as determination.

Wish me luck as I wing my way back across the country.


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