The news, praise be, is that there is no news. None, at least, to which anyone seems to pay the slightest attention.
Oh, you can get The Washington Post, but not everywhere and then only the first edition. The New York Times comes only on Sunday, and The Wall Street Journal appears to be missing from the scene.
And wonder of wonders, it doesn't make any difference. The world actually proceeds without them.
The sun came up this morning, and is expected to set later today. The waves break over the beach, and it is believed they will continue to do so.
People don't even seem unduly exercised if they have missed the latest reports about the Zaccaro-Ferraro finances . . . or what President Reagan is doing to religion, or what he wants religion to do for all of us, whether we like it or not. . . or whether the deficits have risen another billion, or 10 billion, or more.
My practiced, hard, cynical, journalistic eye detects no distemper among the general public, no great clamor for a "NEWS UPDATE!" as they breathlessly say on television these days. The people I see here look contented and in no mood to be interrupted for the latest bulletins, especially those from "the campaign," which really aren't new news anyhow, since the campaign has been going on for nearly a year now.
They're certainly prosperous, to judge from all the new cars parked in the lot by the shore or at the strip of motels leading to the ocean front. And they obviously have not worried about the distance or the expense of getting here. A new Volvo station wagon bearing California plates stands next to a new BMW with Texas tags. (When were those long gas lines, and who recalls them? Yes, you're right, they were during the Carter years. Remember what it was like then?)
That's not to say they are disinterested in news. It just depends on how you define it.
On the beach this morning, for instance, news spread quickly and somehow mysteriously, for I noticed no one talking about it.
A crowd began gathering a hundred yards or so away on the water's edge, attracting more and more people to its circle. They were silent and attentive for several minutes; then, as one, they began strolling away, from my distance looking rather sad and dejected.
"You won't believe it," a young woman carrying a small boy said to her husband upon her return to their beach blanket. "He had this huge fish hooked and he brought it in and you could see it when it came out of the water. And just when he was pulling it in, the line broke. What a disappointment."
Ernest Hemingway would still do well here, and in fact his book, "The Old Man and The Sea," still sells at the little bookstore in town. Escape and adventure as a theme, from books bought to movies seen, appears strongly in vogue.
How typical of the country at large is this scene of well-being, and what does it possibly indicate about the mood of the people in this presidential election year, now only two months away from decision?
Some seat-of-the pants guesses:
Most people are better off than they were, or at least they seem to believe they are. They seem in no mood to be stirred by rhetoric about the perils that supposedly lurk in the shadows of the future. Specifically, I doubt they will be moved much by Walter F. Mondale's repeated evocation of the specter of the budget deficits that are going to do us in, somewhere, sometime, down the road. It's just too remote and too complex a subject to inspire great emotion or a sense of public urgency.
Nor do I think they will be aroused by the presumed outrages Reagan will inflict on the country if he gets his four more years. Reagan, as William Allen White once said of Franklin D. Roosevelt, is a hard man to hate.
As White put it then, in words applicable now, "he laughs too easily" to be a believable villain. "He is too soft-hearted in many ways . . . ."
The same is true when it comes to stirring fears about igniting nuclear war. Reagan, for all his reckless and irresponsible banter about bombing the Russians, does not come over as a warmonger.
So how can the Democrats touch him? Strangely, I submit, one of the ways symbolically lies right here in this splendid stretch of coastline and wildlife refuge that has been preserved for public use by far-seeing public officials who acted in the public interest at the height of World War II.
The Assateague Island National Seashore that occupies the barrier island just across the channel from Chincoteague is a jewel of marshes, forests, beaches and wildlife unspoiled by commercialism and predatory private developers. It is a perfect example of the value of placing the public over the private interest. As such, it provides a contrast with the underlying philosophical approach that motivates this administration and this president.
This president, perhaps more than any other in this century, certainly since Calvin Coolidge, preaches the virtue of the private over the public interest. It is the politics of selfishness that he espouses, the favors-for-the-few-versus-the-benefits-for-the-many principle of governance. Sell off the public lands, develop them, let the big-bucks guys exercise their God-given right to a profit at the expense of citizens present and future -- these are the political threads that bind this administration.
The issue in this campaign is who best builds an America of excellence, equity, and decency for all; who best serves as steward for the public interest in all aspects of national life, education, environment, health, civil rights and civil liberties and general quality of life.
But I see I am getting steamed up, and that's exactly what you aren't supposed to do when you escape to such a retreat as exists here. Besides, the weather's grand, the surf is booming, the fish are biting. And it's all available, free, to anyone who wants to enjoy it.