Here’s another in our series of travelogues covering our travel adventures. This was our second time on Weekly Standard Magazine’s annual cruise. On the ship with us this year were Fox News regulars Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes along with a number of their Senior Editors and guest speakers. The Noordam, newest of the Holland America Cruise Line ships, holds about 1,900 passengers and seemed to be full. About 200 of us paid extra for the privilege of listening to presentations and panel discussions by the Weekly Standard folks on the state of our nation, from the perspective of a Conservative, of course.
THEME CRUISES: Theme cruises have become quite popular and many publications, talk show hosts and TV celebrities offer a once a year opportunity to get to know the host and see the world at the same time. Typically, the organized presentations only take place when the ship is at sea, which means you’re pretty busy when you’re taking tours in port, too.
Louis Rukeyser, the late host of CNN’s Wall Street Week, may have started the fad and was soon followed by William F. Buckley at National Review. Today you have your pick of themes from Gourmet Cooking to Genealogy. Sometimes you’ll stumble onto a “Theme Cruise,” and, with luck, it will be something that interests you. Several years ago we took a “Fall Colors” Cruise on Crystal that turned out to be a “Jazz Cruise,” it was wonderful. Our British Isles cruise on Crystal last year was a “Golf Cruise” and featured Golf Excursions in every port as well as lessons from Hall of Fame Golfer Billy Casper. Casper also did a lecture on his career open to all ships passengers. We enjoyed it, but, the golfers enjoyed it more.
Friends of ours, Larry and Patti Webber, took a Mediterranean Cruise earlier last summer that turned out to be Forbes Magazine’s “Investment” Cruise. While some events were closed to “regular” passengers, Larry was able to sit in on several excellent lectures.
If you book the theme cruise through the sponsoring organization you’ll pay more than the cruise line’s regular fare. This extra amount pays the costs of the presentations and the cruise costs of the celebrities. It also may include other extras. Our Weekly Standard Cruise included special excursions and all gratuities aboard the ship.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: As we did with our last Weekly Standard Cruise travelogue, we’ll cover the itinerary, the ship and ports in the first part and the program and speakers in the 2nd half so if you aren’t interested you can just skip it.
This was a cruise itinerary we’ve taken several times. In two ports, Barcelona and La Goulette, we elected to avoid the heat and stay aboard the ship. Barcelona is featured several times in our other travelogues and we’ve also reported on La Goulette, Tunisia the site of ancient Carthage, so, we won’t mention them further here.
WHEN TO FLY TO EUROPE: Our Cruise started and ended in Rome. We flew United Airlines from LAX to Washington Dulles, then on to Rome. Our flight left Los Angeles at 9 AM and arrived in Rome about 7:30 AM the next morning. It’s a nine hour difference from Los Angeles to Rome; so, when we landed it was it was 10:30 PM Pacific Time. No wonder we couldn’t sleep on board, it wasn’t our usually rest time. But, it certainly was when we arrived, we spent the whole day trying to keep each other awake so we’d be able to sleep that night and begin adjustment to European time.
On previous trips, we left LA in late afternoon so at least part of the flight was during our normal sleeping hours and we were able to get a few hours rest.
To show you the difference your internal clock makes, we arrived in Dulles about 6 PM Eastern Time and had an hour and a half layover before the flight took off again. A woman who got on in Dulles, sitting next to Pat, went to sleep right after dinner and slept all the way to Rome. It was her normal sleep period.
So if you’re traveling from the Pacific Coast, take the afternoon flight.
THE ITINERARY: We purchased a package from the Travel Agent that gave us a night in Rome plus transportation by motor coach to Civitavecchia, Rome’s port about an hour and a half away, plus transport back to the Rome Airport at the conclusion of the Cruise. Ports included Livorno, Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Barcelona, Spain, Palma, Mallorca(Spain); La Goulette, Tunisia; Palermo, Sicily (Italy); and Naples, Italy. The 10 Day cruise included two days at sea.
TIMING: Let’s make this clear at the outset; August is not the best time to take a cruise in the Western Mediterranean. It is hot, and while the ship is nicely air conditioned, the places you visit on shore probably won’t be. Additionally, August is the month that most Italians take their vacation. Many stores and a few attractions are closed “For Holiday.”
The joke is that the only people you see in Rome in August are American Tourists; the Romans are all at the Beach.
THE SHIP: This was our third trip on Holland America, but the first on the ms Noordam. I’ll start by saying we like Crystal, Oceania and Seven Seas better, but this is a very beautiful ship and it has many great amenities. There is a very large library with dozens of computer kiosks where you can catch up on your email or your Fantasy Football League. The cost of using the computers is around a dollar a minute, but you can buy a package that will reduce the price.
The Casino has every game and slot machine you could desire and the minimum bet on the Blackjack tables is only $5, much less than on other ships we’ve been on. Patricia loved all the “Penny Slots.” (If you’re unfamiliar with them, there are 45 different ways to play one “pull,” so it will cost you a minimum of 45 Cents each time.)These machines are electronic marvels that entertain you while they take your money.
There is a “theme restaurant,” a steakhouse called “Signatures” with excellent food and service. But, food in the dining room is only marginal when compared to Crystal, Seven Seas or Oceania and many items on the buffet on the Lido deck are downright awful. There is an outdoor “Burger” Grill where we ordered most of our lunches and then took them indoors to get out of the heat. Our advice is make reservations in “Signatures” for as many dinners as they will allow. By the way, while you are usually limited to one or two reservations per cruise, they will usually allow you to invite another couple. So, if you have friends on Board you can figure out a way to eat there more often. If you can’t figure it out, then you obviously aren’t a Conservative and don’t belong on this cruise. (Just joking.) Really!)
The crew members (especially the Wait and Cabin Staff) are almost all citizens of Indonesia, (formerly known as the “Dutch East Indies,”) who have a special status in Holland. Most are very pleasant and accommodating. Some will nod and smile, but, won’t have a clue what you are talking about, so you may end up with your eggs scrambled when you wanted them poached. But, they’ll happily and quickly make things right for you.
The Noordam is a beautiful ship that you’ll probably love. It was a little too big for us and we prefer the food on other ships. Some of our shipmates loved the Noordam food, but they were mostly from places like Bakersfield. By the way, I’m from Bakersfield, don’t take offense.
PORTS OF CALL:
ROME: The Rome airport is unique in our experience. It is probably the most disorganized airport in Europe. Italians don’t form lines; it’s every person for himself, so when you get to the Immigration section there will be one mass of bodies trying to reach the officials to show their passports. Lucky for us, there was one set of exits for those with passports from the European Union and another for those of us who weren’t. Most in our group were Americans who formed lines, more or less.
In baggage claim the sign said our bags would come in on Carousel 6 and they came in on Carousel 3 instead. When we finally retrieved our bags and reached the spot where our Limo driver was supposed to meet us there were hundreds of local drivers all waving placards with different names on them. We inspected every placard and never found one with our name, so, we simply took a cab. The taxi fare was a fixed 40 Euros, a lot cheaper than the Limo was supposed to be.
Our advice is from the Rome airport to your hotel in the city, take a cab.
We probably shouldn’t count Rome as a port; we were only there overnight and spent most of our time trying to recover from Jet Lag. But, we did stay in a very nice hotel, the Bernini Bristol on Piazza Barberini in the heart of the city. The room was spacious, but, we didn’t have much of a view. Then, again, if we had paid extra, we could have had one.
It has a beautiful Dining Room with a spectacular view that we chose not to visit because the prices were spectacular, too. Instead we had Room Service Pizza and watched an old “Murder She Wrote” in Italian. A very nice breakfast buffet is included in the room rate.
Before we took the bus to the Port we strolled up the Via Veneto for a few blocks. This is the world famous street for up scale shops, which lucky for me were further up Via Veneto than we strolled. The American Embassy is also a short distance up the street. There were numerous interesting restaurants where we could’ve eaten the night before had we been up to going out.
LIVORNO: For a place you wouldn’t want to spend a weekend, Livorno is a very exciting port because it provides you access to such wonderful Italian cities as Florence, Pisa, Sienna, and Lucca. All are worth a visit when you stop in Livorno for the first time, but it’s not the kind of place you want to get off the ship and “stroll through town.” Livorno is one of the largest Port cities in Italy and you will see cargo ships of every description docked along side your ship.
This time we elected to take an “excursion” by motor coach to the Tuscan countryside for a visit to a little Italian hilltop town named Montecarlo and then to a nearby winery for a wine tasting. It’s a coincidence that the following day we were to visit Monte Carlo in Monaco. The little town was quaint and provided lots of “photo ops,” much to the irritation of the locals who weren’t in tourist related businesses. We didn’t stay long and were soon off to a little family winery called “Trattoria Michi.”
After a tour of the winery and an explanatory lecture by a young lady who is a member of the third generation of these wine makers, we were seated at long tables and provided wonderful Italian “munchies” to go with our wine. We were served samples of 5 different wines, including an excellent Merlot which goes for about 100 Euros ($160). The ones we liked the best were simply called “Montecarlo Rosso” (red) and Montecarlo Bianco (white) priced at only 10 Euros a bottle. We liked it so much we bought some of each to take back to the ship.
We were so impressed with the wine we asked how we might acquire some after we came home. The answer is simply, “you can’t.” It’s sold only at the winery and at a few Tuscan wine dealers. They don’t have a website and don’t have the ability to ship wine over seas.
So, if you want to try this lovely wine, you’ll just have to go there.
Perhaps the best thing about this particular tour is that you spend nearly 2 hours touring the Tuscan countryside. We think it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
MONTECARLO, MONACO: A principality surrounded by the French Riviera, there’s not much to see here after you’ve wagered a few bucks in the famous casino. We’ve been here a few times, too, and have found the excursions into France to be more fun and interesting.
A year ago, on our first Weekly Standard Cruise, we met Barry and Marsha Lacy of Atlanta and Palm Beach Gardens. We had a good time on that cruise, kept in touch over the ensuing year and arranged to meet them again on this cruise. We four decided to hire a limo and English speaking driver in Monte Carlo to take us to St. Paul DeVance in the hills overlooking Nice about a 40 minute drive from the Port.
Hiring a limo and personal driver isn’t cheap, it cost about $190 per person plus gratuity, but it isn’t as costly as it sounds when compared to the $125 per person the Cruise Line charges for you to ride in a bus to the same location. The ability to go and come when you please, stop where you please, linger where you like and take unscheduled side trips is, we think, worth the extra cost.
We had been to St. Paul before, but it was the first visit for the Lacys. We arranged to leave early so we would arrive in St. Paul before the tour buses arrived. This proved to be an excellent plan. We had the town pretty much to ourselves for about an hour. French and Italian towns were almost always built on hilltops, because it made them easier to defend or escape when you saw the Visigoths marching up the road. St. Paul was one of these, but, has been changed into a charming little artist’s colony today. You’ll find shops selling gift items, art galleries, very good cafes and a Bocce Ball pitch reputedly frequented by Yves Montand.
Also in St. Paul you’ll find cats - very domesticated, friendly cats that seemingly belong to the whole village and they’re certainly well fed. You’ll see them taking the sun on front stoops, picnic tables and in the cafes. One particularly friendly feline caught Patricia’s fancy. He was lying in a sunny spot at the top of the stairs leading to a very nice home. She gave him some attention and he rewarded her with a very loud purr. Just then, the door to the home opened and out bounded a fairly large dog followed by a young man, obviously his owner. We looked up at the sound of the door for just a second or two, but when we looked back for the cat he had disappeared into thin air.
The dog and his owner trotted up the street as we continued to mosey. A little while later we saw the man and his dog return and enter the house. Before we left town, the cat had returned to his pool of sunshine on the porch.
You’ve got to beware of those canine Visigoths.
After we’d been in St Paul about an hour, the tour buses began to arrive. The streets are strictly for walking, not wide enough for a vehicle. Few of the little stores were air conditioned and it was a very warm day. So, we decided to walk back down to a tavern we’d seen on the way in and have a cold beer.
We think you will love St. Paul de Vance whether you go with a tour group or on your own. But, we definitely recommend the latter.
PALMA DE MALLORCA Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands located off the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain. The islands have been a province of Spain since the Moors were driven out in the 15th Century. A couple of centuries before that it was a kingdom for a short while, but, the locals still like to tell you about their historic Kings. Today, Mallorca is a summer resort attracting visitors from all of Europe and North Africa seeking sun and occasional cool breezes. The best time to visit, we were told, is not summer at all, but spring or fall when the temperatures are in the 70s.
My friend and Fraternity Brother, Dwight Stedman who lives in France, comes here often with his bicycle group. He says there are some very beautiful places to visit along the northern part of the island; unfortunately our stay wasn’t long enough for us to visit that area, too.
In Palma we took a half day City Tour. We visited the gothic Seo Cathedral dating to the 13th Century and the Castillo (Castle) Bellver built about the same time. We strolled through the streets of old town and ended up on a modern downtown street where those in our party who were interested could shop for Mallorca Pearls.
Mallorca Pearls are black artificial pearls, made by a special process that gives them a very authentic luster. They aren’t as expensive as real pearls, but, they are truly beautiful.
We weren’t in town long enough to have a meal and while it’s an interesting place to visit; I wouldn’t go out of my way to come to Mallorca unless of course, like my friend Dwight, you bring your bicycle and enjoy the beautiful countryside.
PALERMO, SICILY Patricia’s mother was born in Messina, Sicily immigrating to New York as a teenager and Patricia has been to Sicily several times. I’ve also been to Messina on two other cruises, but, this was my first visit to the Capital City, Palermo.
Sicily is the large island off the boot of Italy and is that country’s most Southern province. The Island has been occupied by nearly all the civilizations of the old world – Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Vandals, Turks, and others. For awhile it was a separate Kingdom then was under the rule of the Arabs when it became a center of Muslim culture then became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Various local states ruled until it was unified with the Kingdom of Naples in the 18th Century and then joined the unified kingdom of Italy when the country as we know it was formed in 1860. With this rich and varied history, it has marvelous architectural wonders and many ruins of previous civilizations to visit nearby.
We had been warned that we were arriving on a major holiday – the first day of a three day mid-August celebration which provides a good excuse for all Italians to go to the Beach.
So, we were told the stores would be closed and the streets would be clogged with traffic.
We elected to get a Taxi to show us the sites and help us find a decent Italian lunch instead of signing up for one of the “Excursions.”
One problem with taking the excursions on a cruise ship is that they seldom provide an opportunity to have a meal in their itineraries. We had not been able to have the local food in any other port and were bound and determined that if nothing else, we would eat in Palermo.
Taking a taxi is almost always a low cost option for seeing a port city. Most drivers speak enough English to answer basic questions. If you decide to take a taxi, before boarding, engage the driver in conversation to see if his English is passable. It’s always a good idea to carry a card with you in the local language explaining where you want to go and where your ship is docked so you can get back on time.
Our Taxi driver in Palermo was “Tony” a handsome swarthy (in the Sicilian way) fellow who spoke a little English. Patricia doesn’t speak much Italian, but, she understands enough of it when spoken so that the two of them conversed easily. He took us to the Cathedral and several other churches including the “Chiesa del Gesu,” (Church of Jesus), built by the Jesuits in the mid-1500s. We also saw the “Palazzo dei Normanni,” the Norman Palace, and the “Teatro Massimo” Opera House. All of these are architectural wonders, and all in different styles, thanks to the many Sicilian overlords.
It was a very hot day and after an hour or so, we asked to be taken to Tony’s favorite restaurant. He drove us through the mostly deserted downtown streets to the Beach in nearby Mondello. The Restaurant, so close to the bay that Boats tied up at the balcony, was named “El Gabbiano di Biondo.” Here we found where all the Sicilians were on this holiday: floating, boating, swimming and just laying around on the beach. The little town was jammed packed. We arrived at the restaurant about 12:30, very early for lunch in Italy. We got a table on the terrace built out over the water and we enjoyed watching all the activity inside and outside. Later, after 1 PM it began to fill up and by the time we left around 2 PM there was a crowd waiting for us to vacate our table. We think we were the only tourists in the place.
Our meal was the best we had on the whole trip. I had Pasta Vongole (Clams) and Patricia had Pasta Norma (a white sauce). I had a beer and we both had bottled water, all for 30 Euros. By far the cheapest meal we’ve had in Europe in years. If you get to Palermo, give it a try.
Tony got us back to the ship in plenty of time, even though his ancient taxi developed a distinct “sputter” on the way back. The price of the taxi was 100 Euros, plus gratuity, for the whole day. An official Excursion package cost $100 per person for a Half Day “City Highlights” tour, even with the exchange rate, the taxi was much cheaper and, we “called the shots” on the itinerary.
NAPLES: Our last port was Naples. Like Livorno, Naples is the port for dozens of wonderful side trips. As Excursions from Naples you can go to Pompeii, The Isle of Capri, the town of Amalfi, the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. While we’ve been to Naples several times, we’d never actually seen much of the City. We had signed up for an Excursion called “Piazzas and Pizzas.”
Naples is famous as the source of Pizza, although nearby Sorrento disputes the claim. The Legend is that a Chef had some left over bread dough and a few odds and ends of leftovers. He rolled out the dough, added the leftovers, baked it and the “Rest is History.”
Our excursion was to take us on a brief city tour and then to a famous Pizza restaurant, “Toto Sapore.” The day was Sunday, 2nd day of the 3 day Italian Holiday, and the city was practically deserted, but, like Palermo on the previous day it was very hot – I’d guess about 90F with heavy humidity. Patricia decided to forgo the tour, so, I went by myself. But after a week on the ship we knew a lot of people and I had lots of folks to chat with on the tour and at Toto Sapore.
We went to the Duomo San Gennaro, the Cathedral of Naples, which looks a lot like St. Peters to me, but there was no one in the Duomo square except for a few folks walking their dogs. We also went to the Castle built in the 13th Century and saw areas that had been bombed during the war. Our Bus took us up to the top of the hill where we were able to see a spectacular view of the Bay of Naples. On one island is the volcano, Vesuvius, which erupted in the first century AD to bury Pompeii. It has erupted many times since, most recently 1943. Still, there is a National Park on the side of Vesuvius and a lot of habitation. Our tour guide said the volcano makes very fertile soil and many crops are grown there. When there’s going to be an eruption, the Volcano gives plenty of warning so residents can clear out before the “big one” starts.
The day we were there, we saw smoke rising from Vesuvius and I asked our guide if it’s always “smoking.” She told us that Southern Italy, like Southern California is prone to summer wildfires, often, including this particular fire, set by an arsonist - just like back home.
Also in the Bay of Naples are three major inhabited islands including the Isles of Capri, Ischia, and Procida, all of volcanic origin, thanks to Vesuvius. Capri, of course is the romantic island swarmed with tourists nearly every day; Ischia is less swarming with tourists and is home to several high end 5-star hotels and smaller Procida less developed, but no less picturesque.
There’s not much “beach” in Naples, large piles of rocks extend right down to the floor of the bay. Undeterred, the Neapolitans find flat rocks on which to spread their towels and “Grab some Rays.” I got some great photos in Naples of both scenery and citizens.
After our tour we descended on Toto Sapore for our Pizza. When you order pizza in Italy, don’t expect one loaded with tons of “topping.” If you order a “sausage” Pizza, it will be served with one or two thin lengthwise slices of sausage on top. Order a “Pizza Quatro Fromagio” (Four Cheese) it will be covered in Buffalo Mozzarella with four small slices of different cheeses (great ones) carefully distanced from one another on top of the pizza. And, it will be “Thin Crust,” always, thin crust. If you order a thick crust pizza your waiter is likely to say something to you that sounds vaguely like the Italian equivalent of, “Huh?” Or, perhaps it’s “Harrumph!” Your Pizza will be light, flavorful and not greasy. You’ll wonder why Pizza Hut can’t prepare them that way.
A word about the Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese, made from the milk of European water buffalos (American Bison just won’t do). It’s made in a number of places in the world, but only in Italy does it reach “gourmet” status. Around Europe they brag about the Buffalo Mozzarella from Bulgaria, but don’t mention that to an Italian. It’s always fresh, never more than a day since made. A native of Naples will tell you that processed Mozzarella made from cow’s milk weeks before consumption is absolutely “barbaric.”
Naples is home to a great museum which displays many of the artifacts rescued from the ruins of Pompeii, and other antiquities. And, like the rest of Italy, every little church is a gallery of fine art. We’d like to go back to explore Naples for several days.
A final word about Naples. When in Italy you will be warned that Naples is dangerous, full of Mafia types interested in knocking you on the head. Not true. Like all of Italy, the Gypsy’s are expert at picking your pocket and you don’t want to wander around in the waterfront area by yourself, but aside from that, it’s a wonderful Italian treasure waiting to be explored.
AND, NOW, BACK TO ROME. Off the bat let me say, it is a lot easier for an American leaving Rome than for one arriving. They have built a whole new terminal just to process non-EU tourists. It’s is well organized, the check in stations are convenient, the Immigration officers are polite, baggage is checked quickly and people don’t mind standing in a few lines. Then when you are finally ready to go to the gate you are loaded into a van. That’s when things take a turn for the worse.
It looks like a bus, but there are no seats. Everyone stands, crammed together (in the Italian way) and there is no air conditioning or heat. There are a few vents in the roof of the van, but, the windows are bolted shut. You are headed for the flight terminals a mile or so away, and you get there by tooling across the runways. At each runway your driver stops to allow the plane on the runway to take-off, sometimes a wait of 5 minutes or more. After crossing 5 runways you finally reach the departure terminal about a half hour after you started. All this time you are hanging on to overhead belts and guarding your carry-ons under your feet. I was worried that some older people might pass out in the heat, but, if they did we were so tightly packed they wouldn’t have hit the floor.
Once we reached the terminal we were able to find our gate and looked for a gift shop or newspaper stand at which to spend our remaining Euro coins. Surprisingly, in a terminal with planes going to the U.S., there were few magazines in English. There was a display of DVDs, some pornographic, that seemed to do a brisk business. But, as English Prime Minister Gordon Brown discovered when President Obama modestly gave him a DVD featuring his Presidential speeches, American DVDs are not compatible with European DVD Players, and, of course, visa versa.
We finally bought a calendar featuring Roman structures and some hard candy.
We recommend this trip, although we’d avoid it in August. And, we really enjoyed the Weekly Standard sessions.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD
THE MAGAZINE: The Weekly Standard is a weekly magazine featuring Conservative opinion. It was founded by Fred Barnes and William Kristol who still write frequently for the magazine. Fred co-stars with Mort Kondrake on the “Beltway Boys” show weekly on the Fox News Channel. Bill, who appears most weeks on Fox News Sunday on the Fox Network and on the Fox News Channel’s evening news, is a former aide to Vice President Dan Quayle and a widely respected Conservative Guru. Others from the Magazine who joined the cruise again this year were publisher Terry Eastland and Richard Starr, who writes the Weekly Standard’s “Scrapbook” section most weeks. These four have been on both of the Weekly Standard Cruises we’ve taken and are scheduled to join the cruise again in 2010.
This year’s Faculty included Andrew Ferguson a Weekly Standard Senior Editor, a frequent contributor to the editorial content, who recently published a book, entitled, “Land of Lincoln,” about the “Lincoln Legend” as it exists today. I purchased a copy before we boarded the ship and Andy was kind enough to autograph it for me. It’s simultaneously nostalgic and current - funny, too.
Elliott Abrams, a senior State Department Official in the Bush White House, who’s an expert on the Middle East and Anne-Elisabeth Moutet a French Television personality who refers to herself as French Television’s only Conservative Female, also participated in the presentations.
They were all terrific.
Whenever the ship was at sea, the Weekly Standard Faculty was presenting. The Sessions included: 1) A panel discussion, “The Obama Presidency so far”, 2) a presentation by Fred Barnes on “From Bush to Obama,” 3) a presentation by Bill Kristol entitled “The Republican Future” 4) An interview by Bill Kristol of Elliott Abrams entitled, “My eight years with George W. Bush” 5) A presentation by Elliott Abrams on “Israel’s Future,” 6) Anne Louise Moutet did a presentation entitled, “European Perceptions of America,” 7) Andrew Ferguson discussed “Abraham Lincoln,” and finally 8.) A session entitled “Everything you wanted to ask about the Weekly Standard” which featured all the Weekly Standard folks, including Terry’s wife, Katherine Eastland.
Here are a few of my favorite quips from the presentations:
Fred Barnes quoted Jay Leno as saying “We can’t make jokes about President Obama, that’s why the good lord sent us Joe Biden.”
Bill Kristol: Americans are most comfortable when one party has the presidency and the other has congress.
Elliott Abrams: Our current Foreign Policy is “the Hand of Friendship.” That’s all there is to it.
Andrew Ferguson: The only foreign government we’ve stood up to this year is Honduras.
Andrew Ferguson: Obama wants to be the 5th head on Mt. Rushmore.
Terry Eastland: The President’s popularity will stay high even as opinion of his positions falls.
Bill Kristol: The President forgets that governing is different than campaigning.
Fred Barnes: If Conservatives want to win they can’t move toward the Center – They have to move the Center to the Right.
Fred Barnes: Obama is overexposed. One columnist at the Washington Post brags that he’s the only columnist in Washington who hasn’t had an EXCLUSIVE interview with the President.
Fred Barnes. President Obama suffers from the “Tinker Bell effect.” He believes that if you wish something to be so, it will happen.
During the Cruise, Weekly Standard Cruisers dined together each night and rotated tables so all had an opportunity to dine with a “Faculty member.” We were lucky to have dinner with Fred Barnes, his wife and her sister one evening. Fred was working on an article about Obama’s Health Care Bill and several of us at the table were in the Health Care business. Two physicians were among the guests at our table and I’ve worked in fundraising for hospitals for 40 years, so we had much information to share with him. I was pleased to see that some of our ideas were included in his final article a couple weeks later.
Then a few nights later we were assigned to Bill Kristol’s table and we had a chance to become acquainted with his wife. She is involved with a group interested in founding a Jewish Day School in their home town. We had a chat about fundraising that I hope was helpful to her.
We were also seated with Anne Elisabeth Moutet on one evening. She and Patricia became good friends when they discovered their mutual love of cats and they enjoyed chatting about their favorite Paris shopping areas.
We hope you have a chance to go on a theme cruise on a topic that interests you. We seem to be “Hooked” on them.