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 email@example.com.
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.
PERRY J. ZANETT '81
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.
ANTHONY P. SCHIAVO, JR. '93
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.
JOE CARROLL '53
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.
FRANK DIANI '54
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
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
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
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.
DOUG MILLER '81
Clarendon Hills, Illinois
ON BEING FINE
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.
ELLEN WILE GSSW '85
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.
CHARLES HENRY FLYNN '97
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.
MARY MACVEAN '76
I noticed the passing of Professor Raymond Keyes of the School of Management on
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,
JOE CORDO '79
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