Inside the Capitol

Friday, July 20, 2007

7-25 Breakbone Fever, Nixon Library


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- Ever hear of breakbone fever? It's back, and in epidemic proportions. Here's a hint: It has nothing to do with Brokeback Mountain.

      Any World War II veteran of Bataan can tell you about breakbone fever. Southeast Asia had an epidemic in the 1940s and '50s. Then drugs got it in check enough so that it just popped up occasionally throughout the tropics for the next few decades.

      But now it's back, throughout the tropics. It is in Mexico and the Caribbean, moving as far north as Puerto Rico and Cuba. It already has spread south of the Tropic of Capricorn and could go most anywhere mosquitoes swarm.

      Dengue Fever causes excruciating pain in muscles and joints, which explains its popular name "breakbone fever." The flu-like virus also causes internal bleeding.

      Currently only one drug company is working on antivirals and vaccines to treat dengue and other mosquito-borne tropical diseases, such as malaria, that are on the rise.

      Why? Competition from so many other unmet health needs. Bigger returns from developing drugs for chronic conditions that provide a stable market rather than contagious diseases that can be cured.

   And most importantly, tropical diseases occur in poor countries. As soon as dengue moves into Florida or Texas, every drug company will be on top of it.

   So have you guessed why tropical diseases are spreading? More travel? Less DDT? The prevailing scientific opinion isÂ…global warming.

   That's why the National Journal, by far the most expensive, nonpartisan, insiders' report for corporations that can afford the $1,900-a-year price, made it the cover story for the first week of July. Dengue Fever is now laden with social, economic and political overtones.

   The world scarcely knows of the horrors faced by New Mexico's brave men on Bataan. But now, one of those little-known horrors is about to step onto the world stage.

   *  *     *

   Speaking of "little-known," the publicly-operated Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum quietly opened July 11 in Yorba Linda, California. For over three decades it has been privately operated by the Nixon family and friends.

   Nixon didn't want the National Archives deciding what to say about his presidency and historians, in general, didn't want Nixon having access to documents he could destroy.

   There is a delicate balance between the National Archives and former presidents concerning their libraries. Even though the libraries are publicly run, presidents still exert some control because they contribute funding through their private foundations.

   The result is that although the museum exhibits portray the presidents in a more favorable light than might be accurate, the research documents in the libraries tell historians the whole story.

   Evidently there was a decades-long battle between Nixon's daughters, Julie and Tricia, over whether to go public. It eventually ended in court and a settlement finally was reached to let the library go public.

   It will be good for the nation. Nixon was a creep, but he also was a master tactician, analyst and political strategist. He used those skills to design a strategy for dealing with China and to create the new Republican Party, among his many accomplishments.

   The nation's chief archivist Allen Weinstein says President Nixon's administration is the best documented presidency in American history.

   This library will be an important destination for anyone interested in the Cold War, in U.S. relations with China and the Soviet Union, the Vietnam War and its impact at home, dramatic changes in the nation's economy, in the history of the Watergate scandal, and in the history of the presidency.

   So the next time you head to southern California, you might seriously want to plan a stop in Yorba Linda. My wife and I have found every presidential library we have visited to reflect the personality of that president. It should be very interesting to see how this library handles it..

WED, 7-25-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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