By Harry Welty
Published June 11, 2004
Escaping the News
I figured that if President Bush could skip reading newspapers through
his entire presidency I could do the same for two weeks while I cruise
The daily paper isn't an easy habit to break unless you want to teach
the editors a lesson by canceling a subscription. My nose is usually
buried in the paper for an hour-and-a-half daily while NPR's Morning
Edition blares in my ears. Like my Dad before me I've always bought a
local paper or USA Today while traveling but not this trip. I've brought
a couple history books to read instead. There isn't a better place for
history than the Mediterranean.
Strangely, I've had little respite from the news since my retirement
from public office six months ago. It seems to be dogging me everywhere
I turn. In January I watched the Chinese New Year's parade in San
Francisco. As newly elected Mayor Newsom drove by, a flaming couple next
to me inquired as to the identity of the nondescript fellow in the
convertible. Little did any of us know that within days he would open up
City Hall to the first public sanctioned gay marriages in America.
Six weeks later while I was in Dallas, Tom Delay, (Congresses'
Republican Majority Leader) successfully carved out eight more
Republican seats for the Texas Congressional delegation. He accomplished
this two years after reapportionment thus inaugurating a new Era of
biennial rather than decennial redistricting battles.
Then in Boston two weeks ago I attended a stately Back Bay church.
During the announcements thanks were offered for congregants Goodridge
and Goodridge. They had just been married after a long court battle to
legalize gay marriage. The following day Senator John Kerry announced
that he would not accept the nomination during the Democratic Convention
in Boston. This decision, later reversed, gave Boston's Mayor Apoplexy
and gleeful Republicans another Kerry flip flop. And, finally, the
Catholic Church announced the closing of a third of their Boston parish
churches leading to a heated debate over whether demographics or
pedophilia caused the shrinkage.
I don't know why I thought I could get away from the news in Europe by
avoiding the papers. As our tour bus rounded the Palatine Hill to view
the Coliseum in Rome we were greeted by hundreds of shiny black vehicles
and thousands of armed carabiniere under clouds of circling helicopters.
George Bush was in the Eternal City to kiss the Pope's ring and beg him
not to give John Kerry the Eucharist. I'm just speculating about this,
of course. I haven't been reading the papers.
I have, however, been reading History. I wonder if Bush reads it? I've
just finished one slim volume about how French wine makers saved their
industry from the rapacious Nazis leadership most of whom, like von
Ribbentrop and Goring, seemed to have been ex-wine merchants. While
Goebbles, another wine connoisseur, propagandized that der Fuehrer only
drank good, honest, patriotic, German beer some say that Adolph liked to
sweeten his brew with wine. Maybe that's what the half-million bottles
of wine found in Hitler's Eagle's Nest after the war were for.
The other book I've been reading is about the messy peace Woodrow Wilson
was stuck with in the wake of the First World War. I gather it helped
sow the seeds of subsequent wars right up to the present one in Iraq.
Too bad Wilson treated the Republicans so shabbily. If he hadn't they
might have been more helpful. Politics!
I'm also reading my great grandfather's 1911 journal of the
Mediterranean tour he took on the English ocean liner the Arabic. It was
sunk by the Germans four years later right after the Lusitania was
As for the news....Well, I've got a couple more trips planned for later
this year. In August I'll be at a family reunion in Colorado. That
should be about the time the western fire season begins. If that's not
in the news maybe the University of Colorado will offer more coeds to
their football team or maybe the patriotic scion of Coors Brewing will
have sewn up Colorado's US Senate seat.
And lastly, my wife wants us to visit her father in Florida this
November. That should be a quiet trip thank goodness. Nothing newsworthy
ever happens in Florida after summer is over.
Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: