Editorials

After decades in politics and public service, Democratic Mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer ought to know how the game is played. But clearly he doesn’t.

In the weeks following his victory in last month’s primary election, Mr. Ferrer has been lurching around like a novice. As a result, he has lost precious time in his campaign to persuade New Yorkers that they ought to turn out incumbent Michael Bloomberg this November. Mr. Ferrer has been tripped up twice in recent days. Both missteps, interestingly enough, involved education.

In the first instance, Mr. Ferrer posted an item on his campaign Web site about his early education. The passage claimed that Mr. Ferrer had attended “public schools for most of my education.”

Well … maybe not. It turns out that Mr. Ferrer’s formative years were spent at Catholic schools, including the well-known Cardinal Spellman High School in Mr. Ferrer’s home borough of the Bronx. After graduating from Spellman, he won a scholarship to New York University—a private institution.

How did this gaffe happen? The Ferrer camp immediately explained that Mr. Ferrer actually hadn’t written the entry himself—never mind that it bore the label “posted by Fernando Ferrer.” That’s actually not much of a surprise—it is a rare politician who writes anything anymore. The Ferrer campaign was foolish to suggest that the candidate had posted the item in the first place.

But what of the bogus claim? Well, an aide got it wrong. Or so said Mr. Ferrer’s campaign staff. The poor aide apparently made a botch of things after the candidate passed along some ideas that could be posted in his name. Somehow, his Catholic-school years were transformed into a public-school education during this exchange. This episode doesn’t inspire confident thoughts about the competency of a Ferrer administration, nor in Mr. Ferrer’s loyalty to the truth.

A day later, Mr. Ferrer found himself in trouble again, this time for speaking at a public school, in violation of Education Department rules. The department wisely prohibits candidates from visiting schools within 60 days of an election. This is to prevent candidates from exploiting the schools and students for political gain.

Mr. Ferrer spoke at Flushing High School after receiving an invitation from a social-studies teacher over the summer. Apparently, neither the candidate nor his campaign knew about the Education Department rule, and as a result, he found himself having to answer questions about his competency instead of his ideas for improving public education.

Voters who have grown accustomed to smart, accountable city government have good reason to wonder about Mr. Ferrer’s commitment to those values, based on these two incidents. Campaigning isn’t the same as governing, but still, voters can’t help but make judgments about a candidate based on his or her campaign.

Right now, Mr. Ferrer’s campaign seems defensive and in disarray. That’s not a good sign.

Modern Marriage: Bliss or Health Risk?

Is your marriage good for you?

It’s a question that’s often asked in a psychological context, but new research is showing that the emotional health of a marriage can severely impact the physical health of both spouses. A study recently published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that men and women in unhappy marriages show higher levels of stress, both at home and at work. They also experience an uptick in blood pressure at the office around lunchtime—perhaps because that’s when one makes the “just checking in” phone call to the aggravating spouse?

The researchers were interested to find that a troubled marriage affects men’s health as much as women’s. “It’s generally assumed that primary relationships are more critical to women’s psychological well-being than men’s, but this is not the case,” said Rosalind Barnett, senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. “When there is marital concern, men and women are equally affected.”

The study found that couples in bad marriages exhibited elevated cortisol levels—a stress indicator—in the mornings upon waking up, and continuing through the day. And higher stress has been linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke and a host of ailments. Those who reported generally happy marriages didn’t show spikes in stress levels.

These newly explored connections between matrimony and biology are further evidence that, in addition to choosing wisely before walking down the aisle, couples need to work on their marriage over the years—and not just for the sake of “the marriage,” but for each spouse’s physical health and longevity.

The High Holy Days

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, are the holiest days in the Jewish religion. The 10 days of penitence which link these holidays are a time for internal reflection and consideration of the past year and the years to come. It is a time of faith and family and forgiveness.

From the celebration of the Jewish New Year, heralded by the plaintive call of the shofar, to the emotional crescendo of the beautiful and mournful Kol Nidre service on the eve of Yom Kippur, those of the Jewish faith have the opportunity to assess their lives, to examine their commitments to family, friends and work, to start anew. Then, in prayers on Yom Kippur, one asks that he or she be written into the Book of Life, God’s ledger of who shall live and who shall die, based upon who has been righteous and who has not.

Naturally, many will think of the world situation. Americans have a deep and abiding connection to Israel, not least because it is the only democratic government in the entire Middle East. And as home to the world’s most thriving Jewish community outside Israel, New York bears special witness to the slow march toward peace in that region.

There will be much warmth and joy as families gather in the city to celebrate new beginnings and symbolically cast sins into the water. May all New Yorkers join in the spirit of renewal. Editorials