What to do two weeks in Spain when tired of walking and looking?
Two of the options were CNN and Fox News.
For those tired of America bashing, read something else.
The hits of our watching hours were the death of Anna Nicole, what would become of her body, and which of two leading candidates and perhaps as many as 30 other possibilities would be recognized as the father of her child.
Until this occasion, I had lived my life without ever hearing of Anna Nicole. What amazed me was the time and energy devoted to the various details, none of them above the moral level of a bull fight.
On the basis of tuning in during both our afternoon and evening rests, it seemed that there was a full day of "breaking news" devoted to unrest on the Temple Mount/Nobel Sanctuary. We saw CNN interviews with several Muslims claiming evil Israeli intentions, and only a brief interview with a police spokesman. He noted that it was unlikely that any damage would result to Muslim holy places as a result of Israeli efforts to refurbish an entrance to the site, and to continue on some nearby sites where archeologists have been working on and off for more than one hundred years.
CNN's people seemed anxious for a photogenic event, hopefully with pictures of force and suffering. Among their fears was that Israel was provoking the onset of the third intafada. I took that as official news that the second intafada had ended. Israel's military and police can now tone down their efforts to intercept suicide bombers on their way to work. When we reached Mattan he said that local media coverage had barely penetrated his day getting ready for exams.
We did not hear any mention on CNN about the construction done in recent years by Muslims under the surface of the Temple Mount. This is not careful archeology done with hand tools and soft brushes, but gross destruction with bulldozers and power shovels of what might be there for the purpose of building an underground mosque. Israeli archeologists demanded that the work be stopped, but a series of governments decided (by not deciding) that it could not fight everything our neighbors were doing. So the archeologists have been sifting the dump sites created by the Palestinians for remnants of ancient Jewish construction.
Peace Now has signed on to the Palestinian view of what Israel is doing alongside the Temple Mount. I did not perceive that CNN reported that as breaking news.
It did show President Bush speaking before a banner of the American Enterprise Institute. Afghanistan was on his mind, and he called for continued support of his program to nourish that "young democracy." Other news indicated that the Taliban were coming back. They have less fire power, but they know their country better than Bush. I remember seeing the shields of British regiments carved into the rock of the Khyber Pass somewhere between Jalalabad and Peshawar. Afghan tribesmen mauled them in the 19th century. A later generation of the same people embarrassed the Soviet Union and contributed to the collapse of that empire. I hope that Bush and the Americans will do better, but I am not optimistic.