Forcing the Press to Eat Barbeque Not a Good Idea

Posted on August 22, 2005

On CNN's Reliable Sources today, Howie Kurtz explores the phenomenon that the Cindy Sheehan protest in Crawford, Texas has become. Howie talks with Arianna Huffinton, Debra Suanders and Dana Milbank to find out why the Sheehan story is such a big story. But only Dana Milbank has the real answer.
KURTZ: Well, joining me now here in the studio, Washington Post political reporter Dana Milbank. Also with us, in San Francisco, Debra Saunders, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. And in Los Angeles, syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, the founder of thehuffingtonpost.com.

Dana Milbank, you've spent a lot of time in Crawford. Let's be honest, journalists have taken a nonstory, a single protester asking for a meeting with the president, and turned it into a huge story. Why?

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there's a whole bunch of reasons. Part of it is, as you state, a lot of them are sitting around there, eating barbecue three times a day, feeling a little resentful that the president has dragged them down there. Finally, they have something to counter the doldrums.
The press is grumpy with president Bush for taking endless vacations in the hotter than Hades part of Texas known as Crawford. Plus, there's only barbeque to eat, none of that back-east-style sissy food. Now there's an anti-war movement.

The lesson to be learned for future presidents is clear: choose your vacation home wisely. Ronald Reagan was much smarter about these things. He had a fabulous ranch in Santa Barbara with superb weather, food and wine.