President Bush is as dangerous as he is ignorant. And while we can still hope that the Democratic House and increasingly skeptical Senate might yet stand up to him, the odds are long that Congress will do that. Senator Kennedy may be a consummate Washington inside player, but he is far to the left of most in either congressional chamber. Kennedy may be assuming a historic and courageous burden by arguing that funds for more troops be cut, but it is by no means certain that others will overnight acquire the backbone necessary to stand up and stare down Bush. In the weeks and months to come, keep an eye on Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia. If he joins Kennedy and others, Congress’s spine may stiffen.
When it comes to Iraq, Bush has become a dictator. Before the nation can extricate itself from this war, it is going to have to come to terms with this fact. Heaven help us if we don’t.
How is Boston doing?
Three things stand out in the wake of Boston mayor Thomas Menino’s recent State of the City Address:
1) Menino’s most ambitious proposal, his “Smart From the Start” 10-year strategic plan to prevent — rather than just close — the achievement gap Boston’s poorest and youngest residents face is laudable, ambitious, and sorely needed. By using neighborhood community centers to “offer child-care providers and parents free early-learning opportunities” along with “adult education and English-as-a-second-language classes that incorporate a curriculum on child development and school readiness,” Menino hopes to break the vicious circle of hopelessness that potentially imprisons so many. Paying for such a program will be a challenge, but if we don’t strive for greatness, how can we even hope to achieve goodness? And, in a departure from the past, he is likely to find support for this kind of program from our new governor.
2) The mayor is still in denial about the plague of murder, gunplay, and fear that grips Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. He trotted out all the old bromides and platitudes about solving the problem. But he offered nothing bold, nothing new, nothing convincing. Good intentions, sad to say, are just not enough. Still, the additional police officers that he’ll hire are a practical and welcome move.
3) While the symbolism of giving his speech at Dorchester’s Strand Theater was powerful and worthy of applause, the fact that much of the audience was bussed in from available parking spaces by the Bayside Expo Center speaks volumes about Boston’s reality gap. Menino wants — we all want — similar things for Boston: better neighborhoods, safer neighborhoods, more livable neighborhoods with vital neighborhood centers. Uphams Corner is not yet there. And the gap between that reality and the realization of dreams for that neighborhood should not be lost on any of us.