The following is an article that Fox News, White House Reporter, James Rosen wrote about Crawford and Waco Texas. It appeared in the American Spectator.
Why do I care? Well, for one, I grew up in Waco. While it may come as a shock to anyone I grew up with that I am defending the honor of a city that I once said should have signs at the city limits warning motorists that instead of the speed limit on the interstate being reduced 10 miles an hour they were going back in time 10 years.
Waco is a city that while it has over 100 thousand citizens it sometimes feels and acts like a much smaller place. Sometimes that isn't such a bad thing. When I was 18 I didn't feel that way but a couple of wars and world travel has broadened my perspective.
I might also be defending it because Waco is where my grandparents and my parents are buried, where I went to school, played ball and a 100 other things you do growing up. I may not have loved it then...but I'll be damned if a guy from "back east" comes down here and tries to rip on us.
I guess what asses me up the most about this is the fact that James Rosen has decided to make fun of the very people whom I know without a doubt were open and sharing and as nice as anyone could be.
Of course Waco Texas doesn't have the variety of things to do as the DC area...thanks for pointing that out Master Of The Obvious (MOTO). As for the lady who moved to Crawford from Waco and was afraid that her kids would be made fun of...think about it smart guy. They moved from a city of over a hundred thousand to a city of 600 don't you think the lifestyle might be a little different?
Yeah that took a good deal of talent for the suave reporter from back east to make fun of the yokels that he is forced to live around when reporting on the President.
And as for the heat you were whining about James...why don't you strap on some body armor and go for a ride down Route Tampa sometime. I think your perspective on heat and Waco might be changed after you return...or if you return, smart ass.
One more thing, he couldn't even find the good restraunts...if you are ever in Waco try Vetek's Grocery off of I-35 near Baylor, Uncle Dan's Rib house on Valley Mills Drive and Lake Air (both for BBQ), Papa Rollo's Pizza on Valley Mills Drive South of New Road and George's near Baylor (ask for a big O...and not it's not what you think, I am after all talking about Waco)
James, don't let the door hit ya' where the good Lord split ya'.Covering Crawford
Near the President's ranch, so far away.by James Rosen
SHAKING HANDS at the Christmas party for the White House press corps a few
years back, President Bush smiled and asked a reporter: "You coming to
Crawford with me for Christmas?" His head was cocked at an imploring
angle, as if to say I'm count'n on ya! but his eyes gleamed with that
familiar tinge of impish mischief, so the reporter figured he could afford
a little glibness. "No," he said, "I managed to escape that duty this
year." The president's face turned serious, almost wounded: Whaddaya mean,
It was a reminder there are people who actually like Crawford, Texas (pop.
631), people who go there not because smirking assignment editors force
them, but because they are entranced by the swarming crickets and
brick-in-the-face humidity, the sight, for miles and miles, of nothing in
particular, or the pulse-quickening electricity of the tchotchke shacks on
the town's one dusty commercial street, which looks like the crumbling
Western movie sets seen on the Spahn Ranch (last known home of the Manson
family), or that one episode of The Brady Bunch where the Bradys visit
The town consists of a single intersection, book-ended by the Yellow Rose
-- a post-Dubya addition that peddles essential Texarcana like ten-gallon
hats, chaps, and authentic rawhide whips -- and the Coffee Station, a
surprisingly serviceable eatery that enjoys a virtual monopoly on in-town
dining despite doubling as a gas station. President Bush customarily drops
by the Coffee Station every New Year's Day, usually dragging by the elbow
some outwardly smiling but inwardly repulsed sophisticado like Colin
Powell or John Snow.
Working conditions in Crawford are harsh, as severe as the sun on a
steer's back on the Fourth of July. The gymnasium in the Crawford Middle
School is home of the beloved Pirates. But in holiday season it serves for
an irascible rabble of mostly pot-bellied snots from Washington, D.C. as
the "filing center" from which reporters send stories and do live shots
for TV news. On a hot day, when it's literally 104 in the shade, the TV
correspondents despair of making the three-minute walk from the school to
the camera tents, where the cameramen spend the 58-minute intervals holed
up in SUVs, the motor idling and the air conditioning blasting away,
watching on portable DVD players the kind of leering adolescent fare their
wives wouldn't let them watch at home (Mean Girls, Bring It On, etc.).
Since the school is located eight miles from the Bushes' Prairie Chapel
Ranch, the correspondents stand in front of a private farm featuring a
rickety tractor and some authentic bales of hay. The man who owns it is
only seen fleetingly, and shows, thankfully, no desire at all to get
himself or his family on television. The network anchors, blessed with
enviable cheekbones and the luxury of never leaving their companies'
temperature-controlled headquarters in New York or Atlanta, have been
tossing back and forth with the same correspondents for years now, but
still can't seem to grasp the small, simple fact that the correspondents
are not actually standing in front of the president's ranch ("outside the
Western White House!"). They just say, "All right, thanks," when the
correspondents toss back with the same muttered, but audible, tag line:
"Reporting live from Crawford, Texas, near the president's ranchâ€¦"
A strange form of dementia, a mad desire to do harm to oneself or one's
producer, has been known to overcome some of the TV correspondents after
relatively short stints in Crawford. The malady is borne of the fact that
in holiday season there is no actual news, and the President himself, the
McGuffin around which the media's Hitchcockian intrigues revolve, has not
been seen for four or five days; and yet the beleaguered correspondent
finds himself rising at 5 a.m. local time, every day, to do repetitive
90-second live shots, every hour on the hour, for 12 hours in a row, using
the same fakokta footage, from four or five days earlier, of Mr. Bush
bounding down the steps of Air Force One -- holding a dog.
IN THE YEARS SINCE GEORGE W. BUSH WON election in 2000, a few Crawfordians
have sought to exploit the town's newfound fame for financial profit. "No,
I'm doing this full-time now," said Val, a cheerful TV news groupie and
former caterer who thrust forward the lapel of her jean jacket, the better
to show off the shiny pins she was now merchandizing, which sported such
inspired texts as "W.," "Bush-Cheney 2004," "Crawford: Home of President
Bush," and so on. The whole Online Thing kind of spoils it, but anyone who
ever needs a hat, watch, plate, broach, magnet, mouse pad, bumper-sticker,
beer mug, or other inanimate object with the image or name of President
Bush on it simply must come!
Crawford has no hotels; the only place to stay is the Bush ranch, where
whatever vacancies exist have not been publicized to the press. Even Dick
Cheney has been forced to find lodging elsewhere. Thus the traveling
circus at night rumbles along a circuitous dog-leg of state roads and
Interstate highways 25 miles due east to that dazzling metropolis, that
shining beacon of urban futurism and cosmopolitan sinfulness, Waco. Two
years ago, at a get-acquainted barbecue the Crawford Chamber of Commerce
sponsored so local residents could interact with the
down-to-earth-when-you-get-to-know-'em reporters (NBC's David Gregory
didn't show), a woman recently relocated from Waco described her fear that
local children might pick on her son, "his bein' a city kid and all."
Approaching Waco from any angle, one's eye is immediately drawn to the
ALICO building, a singularly statuesque blonde brick building that dwarfs
all others in town, the company name emblazoned atop its roof in red neon,
except for when one of the bulbs has blown, and the town is accordingly
dwarfed by the A ICO building, or the ALI O building, or the -- you get
the point. Longtime residents snicker at newcomers who inquire if Muhammad
Ali owns the building, or the town.
They like things fried in Texas: chicken-fried steak, fried jalapeno
balls, fried bacon-wrapped bacon balls with bacon-fried stuffing. Despite
this, there are actually some fine restaurants in Waco. Just outside the
city proper, nestled far back in the woods like the gathering site for a
Mafia summit, is the North Wood Inn, a genuinely exceptional restaurant
where jackets are required and the waiters stir-fry the walnuts for
avocado salads right at the diners' tables.
Closer to home -- or at least to the invariably dreadful clutch of
Marriott and Hilton hotels where reporters stay when Mr. Bush is in the
area -- a single strip mall offers the readiest options for food, a series
of contiguous restaurants with niche specialties. Crickets delivers the
fried food, burgers, and billiards; Diamondbacks the pricy steaks;
Slow-Poke's the pulled pork sandwiches and 10,000 football screens; for
Eye-talian food, it's Graziano's, and, for Mexican, Ninfa's, where one
might espy Condoleezza Rice and savor the most unapologetic dish in all of
Mexican food-dom: The Queso Flameado, an oblong dish filled with melted
Monterrey Jack cheese, chorizo sausage, and unbridled grease. No flour
tortillas, rice, or other misguided distractions; just the good stuff.
Finally, just across from the strip mall is Buzzard Billy's, where the
specialties include fried alligator, jambalaya, and a local variation of
crawfish that Andy Schwartz, a former Fox News producer and Bethesda
resident with a taste for All Things Cajun, faulted as inauthentic.
Those willing to venture beyond the hotels and strip mall, to explore
Waco's own exotic stretches, along Valley Mills Road and other grand-rues,
will find the usual exurban landmarks (Outback, Best Buy, and so on), but
also one final eatery worthy of mention: the Health Camp. The name itself,
reminiscent of the evil, mocking slogans the Germans would have put atop
one of their camps, should be enough to signal the dangerousness of the
fare available inside this ancient (circa 1947) glass hut, designed like a
miniature Howard Johnson's, complete with arched roof, perched along one
of Waco's charming traffic circles. Cheeseburgers, chili dogs, French
fries, fried tater tots (which are also served -- who knew? -- at the
China Grill Buffet, back near the hotels)â€¦ these are the stuff of the
Health Camp. And it's damn good food, too, for those with the intestinal
fortitude for it.
The earthy Tater Wench who pushes it across the counter sometimes
expresses frustration with the computer into which she punches the orders,
before announcing them into a microphone that pipes her voice into the
kitchen. As she curses the infernal machine, one imagines the sadness that
must have accompanied its installation, sometime in the go-go 1990s. The
New York Times should have done one of its trademark
the-times-they-are-a-changin'-at-the-Health-Camp-type pieces; it would
have been perfect. But no big-time reporters came around these parts back
James Rosen is a White House correspondent for Fox News whose book, The
Strong Man: John Mitchell, Nixon, and Watergate, will be published next
year by Doubleday.
Labels: Texas, The Press