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I've gone and done it again... Correcting "The Right View"

I've gone and done it again... Correcting "The Right View"

On March 10, 2008, The Cambridge Chronicle posted another entry in it's "The Right View" series. It was published in the March 10 edition. In it Mr.Henry Irving of Bigelow Street writes first about respecting ones elders and national figures, fiscal responsibility, and that the government should be allowed to break the law with impunity.

Congratulations Mr. Irving on your election as chairman of the Cambridge Republican City Committee.

Well, I agree and disagree. Read the column and then see my response below. I Got a call from editor David Harris today saying that my letter would appear in the next edition.March 20 I believe. Here it is:

Two out of three is good. Maybe even two and a half. I'm referring to Henry Irving's The Right View column.

1. Calling the First Lady a chick shows a lack of judgement. I suspect it was an affectation of Ms. Stone's to sound cool. However, Mrs. Bush, almost as old as I am,is safe from chickdom. The use of honorifics is sadly absent from American English lately. If you want to persuade your audience, the worst way is to begin is with a lack of respect. Anyone who doesn’t already share your opinion will likely dismiss you as a boob, leaving you wasting your breath and everyone's time. More civility and respect in public discourse and everyday life would be an improvement. Even though Richard Nixon did destroy any notion I had that being the President of the United States of America made one hold oneself to a higher standard, the office must be respected.

2. We haven't had fiscal responsibility in Washington since January 19, 2001. Here we have our own deficits. Consider that $23,000 per student per year. Most municipalities can't even dream of that. As Mr. Irving says, the maximum should go toward identifying and implementing the most effective curricula, instruction, and assessment. This is precisely the point of the progressive wing of the School Committee who believes not only that we can do better, but that we should not rest until we have a Superintendent who will put his energy towards finding and implementing just such improvements.

3. I don't know where to begin, but I'll go with Mr. Irving's assertion that you don’t renege on a promise. Honor, respect, credibility, and security are at stake. Mr. Irving's example of lawsuits against telecoms that agreed to break the law at the President's request is interesting. Upon taking the oath of office, Mr. Bush agreed to uphold the law, and as anyone who has been paying attention knows, that breech began before September 11, 2001. That being the case, what that makes my bones ache is that those responsible aren't facing criminal charges.

Good manners and values count. Spend other people’s money carefully and don’t throw good money after bad. Kids learn by competing and being challenged. Don’t renege on a deal. If Senator Obama is nominated and wins the election, it will be exactly because those principles of common decency are held by the overwhelming majority of American citizens and they miss them terribly.

I hope Mr. Irving will forgive me for quoting him so liberally.

Mark Jaquith


I thought I should let people know that Mr. Irving sent me a very nice note thanking him for my comments. He also expressed the opinion that actually listening to someone's arguments and expanding on them is good for democracy. If only more of our political discourse could be so civilized.