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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Friday, October 29, 2004

    Pulse of the People: Only four more days until election day, and I'm beginning to detect a shift toward Bush among my patients. No one comes in wearing Bush/Cheney buttons, but no one comes in wearing Kerry/Edwards buttons anymore, either, unlike a couple of months ago when just about every union member wore one. In fact, the only guy wearing a campaign button recently was a union member wearing a "Veterans for Bush" button.

    There are other signs that support is swinging toward Bush. One of my patients, as he was leaving, turned to me and said, sotto voce, "You know Kerry has never once voted for tort reform, don't you?" (Yes, I know.) Another patient tells me how anxious he's feeling after the first debate. He's worried about what a Bush defeat would mean. A woman asks me if Bush is responsible for the flu vaccine shortage, then cuts me off before I can answer because she'd vote for him anyway. "There are more important things than flu vaccines."

    But yesterday's patient was the tipping point. Mr. B. is an elderly academic. You would know that just by looking at him. He carries an NPR tote bag, and reads Snail Magazine. He's a jazz afficionado, and travels to France every year to share that love with others. He speaks very carefully in a very p.c. manner. He happened to be in my office on September 11, 2001, and I very clearly remember him fretting about the effect of globalization and modernity on the world. A Kerry voter if ever there was one. Or, at least so I thought. But he has developed one of those diseases that forces a person to re-assess his life. Yesterday, he was explaining to me how his disease had made him re-examine his core beliefs, many of which he had suppressed for many years to succeed in academia. And in the midst of a discussion (or really a soliloquy, he's a professor, after all) about God and man and reason, he suddenly digressed to Vietnam, saying, in effect, it was foolish to think we could reason with the North Vietnamese. And he stopped suddenly, as if he had just shocked himself. Now, he didn't mention the election. He didn't mention Kerry's suppression of his own faith to his political ambitions, or Iraq, or the war on terror, but he gave me the impression that although he was talking about Vietnam, he was really thinking about the war on terrorism, and the war in Iraq. I bet when the curtain closes behind him on Tuesday, he punches the card for Bush. Maybe I'm wrong, but the fact that a man with his background is even rethinking these long-held beliefs is significant.

    posted by Sydney on 10/29/2004 08:14:00 AM 0 comments


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