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. BCM welcomes letters from readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and must be signed to be published. Our fax number is (617) 552-2441; our e-mail address is birnbaum@bc.edu.



I disagree entirely with Professor Marc Landy's contention that there have been no great presidents since FDR ["Monumental achievements," Summer 2000]. Whatever blemishes the Watergate scandal has left, the fact remains, as President Clinton said in his eulogy, that "the time for judging Richard Nixon on the basis of one aspect of his life is long over."

Nixon is still the man who ended the Vietnam War and brought home the American POWs, strengthened the American military when it had grown dangerously weak, initiated the first meaningful arms-limitation talks, opened up China to Western diplomacy and business, improved our relations with the Soviet Union, launched one of the most effective crackdowns on organized crime in our nation's history, integrated the vast majority of the American South's schools in a constitutional manner, made giant strides toward peace in the Middle East, turned around the American economy after a long slump, restored law and order to American campuses, to some degree successfully defended American business against unconstitutional socialistic legislation, and gave 18-year-olds the right to vote.

Waterbury, Connecticut


I find it incredible, though not surprising given the ideological bent of BC's faculty, that Marc Landy chose to exclude Ronald Reagan from his list of presidential greats because the Republicans did not gain in Congress during Reagan's term.

Lest we forget, in 1980 there were many who openly declared that the Cold War was a lost cause. Reagan proved them wrong. The success of Reagan's fiscal policy laid the groundwork for the economic expansion we enjoy today. The ultimate victory of Reagan's ideas can be gauged by the fact that the Democrats have since appropriated his positions on issues such as reforming welfare, balancing the budget, and strengthening law enforcement. In my opinion, that Reagan was able to accomplish so much while faced with a Democratic majority in Congress only enhances his claim to greatness.

Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania

Harry Truman did not need Roosevelt's shroud to be elected in 1948. He made the tough A-bomb decisions and had served almost all of FDR's final term. A recent C-SPAN survey puts him at number five--ahead of Thomas Jefferson, which makes Harry great in my mind. In June 1948, Truman made the decision to immediately recognize Israel, an FDR-type move.

Re FDR: Of course his pluses far outweigh his minuses. If he had followed George Washington's two-term limit--most of Roosevelt's faux pas were in his third and fourth terms--he could have been called the greatest.

Framingham, Massachusetts


FDR was a leftist liberal and an ambitious, unscrupulous egoist who would have stayed on as president for 50 more years, had he lived that long. As for his initiating the path toward a totally nonpartisan government--isn't a nonpartisan government what China and Cuba have now and what the Soviet Union had until recently? Party politics, as frayed as it is, is still a guarantee of some form of liberty. Landy's article smacked of revisionism.

Goleta, California


Marc Landy replies: I very much appreciate and empathize with the ringing endorsements of Truman, Nixon, and Reagan, but I ask the letter writers to remember my definition of greatness. It is not goodness. I agree, on the whole, with the lists of specific accomplishments they compile. But in none of these cases do the lists add up to a "conservative revolution" on a par with those led by the five greats.

Nixon was not a strong party leader; he had made a shambles of the Republican party even before his ignominious resignation (an event that Mr. Zanett chooses to put aside). No new regime was ushered in as a result of his tenure. Reagan's unwillingness to even try to obtain a congressional majority in 1986 speaks to the strange lack of ambition that undermined his "conservative revolution." Truman is number five with C-SPAN, but he is number one with me, in terms of my affections. But the profound political transformation that greatness implies can only be secured through a re-election campaign (Andrew Jackson in 1832, FDR in 1936).

Perhaps we should invent a new category for Truman called best one-termer. As for FDR, maybe the letter writer is correct to say "he would have stayed on for 50 years." If so I would probably still be voting for him. Come to think of it, I still am.



Thank you for the update on My Mother's Fleabag ["Free play," Summer 2000]. I had the pleasure of being a writer and cast member for the very first show in 1980.

I thought you might be interested to learn the career paths of members of the first My Mother's Fleabag: Jim Pitt '81 is a producer with the Conan O'Brien Show and executive producer of Hard Rock Live after a long tenure as a producer at Saturday Night Live; Anne Garefino '81 is executive producer of Comedy Central's South Park; Cindy Malo '81 is editor of the HBO series Oz.
As for me, I turned into an actor of sorts. I am a trial lawyer in Chicago. Part of my practice is devoted to entertainment law.

Clarendon Hills, Illinois



When I first looked at the CT scan frame on the table-of-contents page of your Spring 2000 issue, I selfishly thought for a few seconds that BC had somehow gotten hold of my CT scan. What a shock to see "it" again.

I was moved by "Hello my friends: The medical bulletins of JoJo David" because I have been down a similar path. During the spring and summer of 1999 I was treated with chemotherapy and radiation for early-stage non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the same type JoJo had. Since December, I have been officially in complete remission.

My attitude during much of the ordeal was not nearly as optimistic and spiritual as that of JoJo and his wife. I was angry and frightened, with periodic states of optimism. Despite myself, I knew--maybe in my soul?--that I would be fine.

I admit it's a bit miraculous that what happened to me and JoJo (and many others) can be medically fixed; it takes longer to fix the head, though. JoJo's state of mind during his extensive treatment is inspiring to me.

Palmetto, Florida



Congratulations on publishing Ron Hansen's article, "Communion" [Summer 2000]. Social scientists well know that religion and eating are two of the most communal activities in human society.

Associate Professor of Sociology



I read with great sadness that my former teacher Adele Dalsimer died this past winter ["Italics," Linden Lane, Spring 2000]. I remember her vividly in our Gasson Hall classroom, engaging her colleague Kevin O'Neill in vigorous debate. But there is one scene that I like to remember best.

In the summer of 1996, I was studying with Philip O'Leary at the Abbey Theatre Program in Dublin. We were invited to attend the opening evening of BC's Brian P. Burns paintings at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Amid a notable crowd of academics and dignitaries, including the then-president of Ireland Mary Robinson, Adele mingled throughout the room, meeting and greeting everyone. Then, among all these luminaries, she recognized me through the crowd and gave me a wink. That was Adele Dalsimer--a leader in her field who never forgot her students.

Ansonia, Connecticut


In 1972, I had the great fortune to have Adele Dalsimer as my freshman English teacher. In May, when she asked my plans and I told her I wanted to major in economics, she did not simply argue; she told me I must major in English, and she selected the two courses I would take in the fall. I changed my major and never looked back, taking every course of Adele's that I could possibly fit into my schedule. I had three male friends in a class of hers my last semester--of course, they all had huge crushes on her. We were in awe; she'd even named her children in iambic pentameter.

Los Angeles



I noticed the passing of Professor Raymond Keyes of the School of Management on July 15.

It was the first semester of my junior year when I met Ray, and pretty late in my academic career at BC to be thinking about a major. I had already flirted with accounting, finance, and computer science, and contemplated transferring to A&S. Sitting in my first Basic Marketing class, I was wondering when academic flirtation would turn to passion when suddenly Ray Keyes entered the room with his booming voice and boundless enthusiasm. Within half an hour my passion for marketing was kindled. Over my last two years at BC, Ray Keyes served as teacher, mentor, and friend. We never truly comprehend how our actions positively influence the lives of others. Keyes's accomplishments transcended the classroom. God be with you, Ray Keyes.

Sudbury, Massachusetts



I want to thank BCM and Tim Hawley for the excellent article on the optical memory research going on in my laboratory ["Under glass," Linden Lane, Spring 2000]. I would also like to point out one very important aspect of this research that was not covered; namely, that it is being carried out by two of my talented graduate-student colleagues, Michael Previte and Chris Olson, who deserve equal credit for everything that has been accomplished.

Associate Professor of Chemistry

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