By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by David KawashimaThe walls are caving in on George Dubya Bush's nomination of ex-Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez to head the Peace Corps. Reader Hanna Hill e-mailed us this recent exchange between veteran newswoman Helen Thomas and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer:Helen Thomas: Ari, is the president going to pursue the nomination, the appointment of Mr. Gaddi Vasquez as Peace Corps director when he has no foreign-relations experience, when he presided over the nearly $2 billion bankruptcy of Orange County, when he is opposed as unqualified by several previous Peace Corps directors? Ari Fleischer: Helen, as you know, anybody that the president has announced for an appointment, he of course supports. And in the case of anybody else who has not yet announced— But he's not qualified, and in these particular times, wouldn't you want someone who knew the world?
Well, you're saying, in your opinion, he's not qualified. Others may differ.
A Peace Corps volunteer group doesn't differ. On Nov. 8, it persuaded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to allow one of its members to testify against Vasquez. Making the rounds on the Internet is this message from Richard Lipez, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia from 1962-1964: "Suddenly the Peace Corps is more important than ever. Wrenched horribly out of its long, isolationist reverie, the United States is now attempting to engage the larger, messy, complex, often violent rest-of-the-world in ways the Peace Corps has been learning about and eagerly grappling with for more than 40 years. Far more than just military . . . this multifaceted re-engagement with the rest of the planet needs a Peace Corps that is as brave, committed and vital as ever. That means it also requires a Peace Corps leader with judgment, imagination and vision. Sadly . . . Gaddi Vasquez is not that person." Ouch!