Friday, January 14, 2005

"The Tsunami is Bush's Fault!" part XLVII

Desperate to use the tsunami to slam President Bush, Eloisa F. Callender writes a screed in The Capital Times about how the President has "lost face" in Asia for being so stingy. The column was published on January 10th, so she's late to "Stingyfest 2005," but she's right on time for Sillyfest.

"Losing face" in the cultures of some Asian nations has led people to commit suicide, kill family members in honor killings, and resign from national leadership positions. Losing face was what many Asians thought President Bush did in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster.

In other words, Eloisa F. Callender thinks President Bush should resign his presidency, kill Jeb, and then kill himself.

Do you suppose this suggestion was kicked about at clandestine meetings of self-important Madison progressives? "I've got an idea. Since we can't kill him ourselves, because none of us would ever consider even touching any of those filthy GUNS, why don't we suggest that he should kill himself, and that it would be, you know, honorable to do so!"

While many world leaders quickly grasped the scope of the devastation and pledged their support, the silence from Bush was deafening. America was missing in action from the world stage for several days. Where was the richest country on Earth? Why hadn't Bush - the "compassionate conservative" - sent a rescue mission? Couldn't the U.S. forces drop supplies in disaster areas as swiftly as they drop bombs in Iraq?

In Eloisa F. Callender's world, war plans are drawn up over coffee at breakfast, and bombing begins during brunch.

Finally, from Crawford, Texas, where Bush was spending his Christmas break, came a pledge of $15 million, a figure so small that it was booed in editorials worldwide.

In those first few days of uncertainty about how widespread the damage was (when the death toll was still listed at around 20,000) this was a figure still larger than the amount most other nations committed. Then the game of one-upmanship began. Nevertheless, the U.S.'s contributions, in monetary amounts from both federal and private sources and in goods and services dwarfs the amount any other nation contributed. The reason the U.S. was booed had nothing to do with the pledge amount. It had to do with the common ailment of anti-Americanism.

Bush added to the awkwardness even when he increased the aid - could it have been out of shame? - to $35 million, or $5 million less than he plans to spend on his inauguration and much lower than aid from less wealthy nations. Perhaps in response to mounting criticisms, Bush again increased U.S. disaster aid to $350 million, as though adding an extra zero to the previous $35 million was simply to correct a typographical error. It was viewed by many as nothing more than desperate face-saving.

Following the catastrophe, the death toll rose daily as the extent of the devastation became clearer. Therefore the amount of aid also rose daily. Simple logic that fails Eloisa F. Callender.

It was impossible during those first few days to determine exactly what was needed, and how best to get it to the affected regions. The UN took meetings. The US Military raced to the scene and started helping out. The UN continued to take meetings and arrange for five star hotels and seven course meals. The Americans and Aussies got their hands dirty.

How desperate? Desperate enough that Bush turned last week to his longtime nemesis, former President Bill Clinton, and his own father, former President George H.W. Bush, to spearhead a fund-raising drive.

How dare the President make disaster relief a bipartisan effort? Eloisa F. Callender is right -- he should have shut out the Democrats.

In effect, Bush wants ordinary Americans to open their wallets to help him save face and then get the credit for their generosity. But the same taxpayers who are already shouldering the $1 billion-plus weekly cost of the Iraq war were ahead of him, overwhelming Internet sites with their donations without government prompting. This the world already understands: the distinction between the stinginess of the American government and the generosity of the American people.

If Bush wanted to put America's money where his mouth is, he would seek the same kind of open-ended commitment from Congress that he won to fund the war in Iraq. Three hundred and fifty million is a drop in the budgetary bucket.

In effect, Eloisa F. Callender doesn't want Americans freely donating their money to the tsunami relief. Eloisa F. Callender wants the government to take the money through increased taxes. This, supposedly, will lend legitimacy to President Bush's disaster aid efforts.

It's a shame that Clinton allowed himself to be pulled into Bush's charade. Is Clinton that desperate to rehabilitate his public image and build a legacy?

You said it, Ms. Callender. I didn't.

Perhaps he could learn from the more globally popular former President Jimmy Carter, whose legacy extends beyond a single spotlight-hogging crisis or disaster.

Indeed. President Carter's legacy includes quite a few spotlight-hogging crises.

The tsunami victims don't have time for America's political pandering, the nature of which was made even more obvious when Bush sent his younger brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to join Secretary of State Colin Powell in surveying the damage - as though it was some kind of stray Florida hurricane that had struck the region. Powell unashamedly busied himself with photo ops and press conferences to shore up America's battered image.

If she's so informed about appealing to the Asian culture (see the first paragraph) then perhaps she's aware that sending a close family member is considered a high form of respect. But the tsunami victims apparently don't have time for the U.S. at all, given how they're already trying to push us out of the region. Meanwhile the UN took more meetings.

While the U.S. helicopters and planes have finally begun delivering relief, . . .

First on the scene = "finally."

. . . there are many who will remember the delay and the grudging way that relief was extended and many will see Bush's action for what it really is.

Indeed, for what it really is, is "action" as opposed to sitting around.

This tsunami has washed away what little good will and respect Bush had left in the world. Based on his inept and indifferent performance in this crisis, there will likely be fewer in the world inclined to throw him a lifeline when he needs one.

When was the last time that the "world" threw the U.S. a lifeline? Doesn't this disaster demonstrate that it's always the other way around?


At 11:17 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Where is the world relief effort to help the mudslide victims of California?

Callender, you dunderhead!
While the UN was busy trying to find food an shelter for their disaster relief workers, the US was busy with diverting an aircraft to the area. We were rolling up our sleeves getting to work!
Lets see what good is an aircraft carrier? It makes fresh water out of salt water. It has a hospital. It has an airport. It's its own phone company with global communications. It is the perfect place to launch a rescue and relief effort when everything on the main land is devestated you idiot!
Besides, the initial $15 million offered by Bush was all that Indonesia asked for...we gave them what they asked for!

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Clayton said...

Thanks for finding this one - I've linked to your site and the original story was well. It appears that just because the election is over, the liberals/left are not about to relent in their efforts to defame and denigrate everything the US/President Bush does.

It also appears that facts are not about to get in the way of that effort, and there is still little or no editorial oversight of even a minimal nature in place.

Check out the Diplomd ( for some great on-site information on the relief efforts underway.


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