Today It's The Seattle Times, with Ruben Navarrette Jr on Lead Pitchfork
... if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor ...
By Winter Patriot on 9/6/2006, 11:20am PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

In today's episode, Ruben Navarrette Jr brings a new depth of meaning to the "Op" part of his job as a writer of "Op/Ed" pieces.

Navarette writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune but he's also a syndicated Op/Ed writer and fortunately I found him in the Seattle Times, where he was saying:

Reason loses out in Mexico

Quite a headline, don't you think? That's the hook. Wonder what's inside? Come along with me!

SAN DIEGO — The long wait is over in Mexico, where the top electoral court has now declared a winner in a presidential election that took place more than two months ago. The hope now is that things calm down.

Don't bet on it.

The old Bait-and-Switch Gambit ... not really a Gambit in the original (true) sense of the word

A voluntary sacrifice of a pawn or a piece in the opening with the idea of gaining the initiative, a lead in development or some other compensating factor.

but it is old! and it's a "gambit" in these senses:

an opening remark intended to secure an advantage for the speaker

a ploy: a maneuver in a game or conversation

Gambitry or otherwise notwithstanding, it does seem appropriate that the overall tactic seen here, Bait-and-Switch, would quite naturally be abbreviated "BS".

Having lost the election, a left-wing populist with a flair for the dramatic labels his opponents "criminals" and vows to set up a shadow government.

About 150 equally dramatic legislators in Congress take control of the podium and prevent the sitting president from delivering his final state of the nation address. In the streets, protesters throw rocks and bottles at police and stage sit-ins at makeshift shantytowns.

Who needs a presidential address?

The state of the nation is obvious: Mexico has gone mad.

Presenting a one-sided version of a complex situation and declaring the people in it "mad" ...

A politician comfortable with the people.

What's that called, again? ...

"Shameful" if you're a news reporter ...

... but if you're an Op/Ed writer, I suppose you can always say, "Well, that's just my opinion."

A few months ago, before Mexican voters went to the polls on July 2 to select a new president, I suggested that Mexico needed a revolution. I also said that such a thing would never come to pass if pro-business conservative Felipe Calderón got more votes than left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

I was one for two. I was right that Mexico needs a revolution; the poor have had enough of being swindled and preyed upon — first by the rich, and then by the middle class. In fact, the poor are so accustomed to this sort of treatment that it's easy to see why they have taken to the streets. But I was wrong that a Calderón victory would preserve the status quo. Instead, that victory — and how it came to be — may just send the country into a tailspin.

Which is not to say that López Obrador was the better choice. No way. Just take a look at his loco behavior since the election, and you'll see: He's not ready for prime time.

Well ... I suppose Ruben Navarette Jr is entitled to his opinion.

He may even be entitled to write so-called Opinion pieces which are almost entirely devoid of fact.

But to many others, surely, certain obvious facts are crystal-clear --- among them, the very obvious fact that Obrador is much readier for prime time than any American politician we have seen in a long long time!

Maybe that's why he's so dangerous!

Millions protesting fraud at the first Assembly.
Photo: Erasmo Lopez


I probably wasn't supposed to mention that, was I?

I probably wasn't even supposed to notice it!

Oh well ...

After the initial vote count showed Calderón winning by about 243,000 votes out of 41 million ballots cast, López Obrador called for a full recount. Election officials granted a partial one.

There was nothing wrong with López Obrador asking for a recount. It was a close election.

Wrong was when he went on television before the recount was completed and unilaterally declared himself the president-elect.

Wrong was when he accused his political opponents — including Calderón — of orchestrating a coup d'état and then charged that Mexico's electoral tribunal had gone along with it.

Wrong was when López Obrador called for democracy and then wiped his feet on the democratic outcome when it didn't go his way.


Wrong is when one candidate's brother-in-law writes the software that counts the votes.

Wrong is when one candidate starts the election with a deficit of 126 thousand votes.

Wrong is when a 9% recount reveals enough irregularities --- all tending in the same direction --- to suggest [a] that a full recount would most certainly reverse the announced outcome, and [b] that such a recount would uncover undeniable evidence of massive and deliberate fraud.

Wrong is when certain "reporters" fail to mention any of this. Or any of a number of other things.

The interaction between leaders and the crowd are common. From the third Assembly.
Photo: Exparta

Wrong is when they blame a complex situation on a nation going loco instead of trying to understand it.

Wrong is when they do understand it but they lie about it instead of trying to help their readers understand it.

It ain't the Mexicans who've gone loco, Senor Navarette. It's the Americans.

Loco, Crazy, Psychotic, or Fast Asleep ... call it what you will ...

But what can you expect when their so-called leaders are Ignorant, Arrogant, Full of Opinions and Rhetoric, Empty of Facts or Knowledge or (God forbid!) Understanding?

And how can the people learn any better when they read so-called reporters who are exactly the same way?

And still writing for a living? Only In America!

It's a wonderful country! No wonder so many foreigners want to move here!

If you want some reality to counterbalance the stuff Ruben Navarette Jr threw in here today with his pitchfork, then you've come to the right place. Read! Learn! Start here, please!

Poor Calderón.

Poor Navarette! What if he ever has to get a real job?

He has an uphill climb.

That's for sure!

The first goal of his presidency has to be to convince the poor and the disaffected that they have a voice and he's listening to it. The president-elect can also expect to battle rival factions in Congress.

That includes those feisty legislators from López Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) who caused the scene last week by preventing Mexican President Vicente Fox from speaking. The lawmakers said they were protesting voter fraud and the theft of an election.

No research skills ... a very few oldy-moldy spin-tactics ... in what appears to be a small bag of tricks ... and no apparent grip on reality ... for example:

The protest wasn't supposed to happen. Calderón's supporters had hoped that the PRD would part ways with López Obrador over his antics and concentrate on building on its significant gains in Congress.

If this is true then Calderón's supporters have been guilty of ignoring certain very obvious political realities, haven't they? Oh, my! And so have certain so-called journalists.

But Ruben Navarette Jr insists that this ignorance is the REASONABLE way to go!

That approach makes sense. It is practical and reasonable and mature, which explains why some Mexicans want nothing to do with it.

Counting all the votes would have made sense too. Wouldn't that have been reasonable?

It amazes me to see how many so-called American journalists don't see free and fair vote-counting as an issue that might be worthy of disrupting the normal daily routine ... of a person ... of a country ... of a civilization that's already in eight kinds of crisis, anyway ...

WHAT COULD BE MORE REASONABLE than wanting all the votes to be counted fairly?

Well ... I suppose wanting to keep a cushy gig in the corporate American media machine might seem reasonable too.

To some people.

Ruben Navarrette's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is

2006, The San Diego Union-Tribune


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