Greg O'Brin, Codfish Press
Cabo San Lucas, Mex.—Hola, Amigos. Feliz Navidad! The weather here is sunny and inching into the 80s. The food is great, the natives are friendly, the pace is renewing, and my kids are actually talking to one another and seem to enjoy hanging with their parents. Perhaps they don’t want to stray too far from the family wallet. About the only problem to date has been a bruising trip with my oldest son Brendan into the deep Pacific with a coarse, weathered charter boat skipper, the Mexican equivalent of Quint in the movie Jaws, and a fishing craft you’d expect to find marooned on Gilligan’s Island. We loaded up late on the Dramamine.
The only good news here is that the stabilizing effects of the Dramamine kicked in when we returned to our resort on the tranquil Sea of Cortez, just in time for me to review a week’s worth of newspapers. I had promised myself, and the family, that I would take a vacation from the world, the first in several years, and ignore the longing to stay in the loop. I fell off the wagon.
Viewing national and world events through a tropical prism—out of context and thousands of miles from reality—is dizzying, and yet it offers a fresh, and in some ways, more exacting perspective. The bold response from the Bush Administration, for example, on spying on American citizens, renewal of the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq and the skinny on the U.S. economy appears from my detached front row seat on the beach to be pure spin. Early on in the Bush Administration it seemed Dick Cheney was running the show; now it looks as if the spinmeisters are.
To his credit, President Bush, on advice from his handlers, seems to be following the cardinal rule of political communication: tell your own story. The problem is the story lacks credibility, despite Bush's best intentions to make it louder and clearer. Illegal spying on American citizens is just that. Bush’s logic on Iraq and the fight against terrorism (that “there are only two options before our country—victory or defeat”) makes for a great sound bite, but it’s simplistic, lousy leadership that smacks of desperation—the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass into the end zone with seconds left on the clock, in this case opinion polls showing dismal public support and, of all things, renegade Republicans joining forces on some issues with the Great Satan—the Democrats.
“The president does not get to pick and chose which laws he wants to follow,” Sen. Russell Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said in what comes across as the most salient comment on Bush’s acknowledgment that he authorized secret eavesdropping within the Estados Unidos without obtaining court warrants. “He is a president, not a king.”
It’s a statement that Vincente Fox would even understand.
Maybe the sun is getting to my brain, but I think Bush’s flacks are missing the point. The American people want the unvarnished truth, not some guy reading cue cards.
Now where’s that sunblock? I think I’ll need SPF 30 today!