I've been traveling in Mexico for the last two months. I have never been more surprised by a country: the incredible ancient prehispanic and colonial architecture, beautiful landscapes, and modern, friendly cities. The border is horrible - one hundred miles south of the border (I visited Monterrey and Cd. Chihuahua) is beautiful and safe. Look up pictures of Zacatecas and Guanajuato - amazing.
Corruption and drug use are a big issue, but tourists are safe (except from using your credit card at sketchy clubs to buy drinks... whoops).
To me, Mexico feels like a country rapidly moving towards the first world, not the other way around. In the US, we really only hear the bad stuff, but doesn't begin to sum up feeling in this country - everyone I've met seems optimistic, if not somewhat bitter about government corruption.
Also, here is a very important and recognized recent article from the Mexican magazine Proceso, with an interview with the second in command Mexican drug trafficking: http://www.proceso.com.mx/rv/modHome/detalleExclusiva/78067
Check it out.