Wednesday, December 29, 2004
committed $35 million (out of a total of $100 million in worldwide pledges of international aid), 9 military planes filled with relief supplies, and has set up a regional support center at a US Air Force Base in Thailand, which will be manned with US Marines. In addition to this, there are millions more dollars in contributions from Americans pouring into the bank accounts of relief groups worldwide.
Yet, what does the Washington Post decide to highlight in a Page A1 article?. Complaints about Bush not taking a more visible role! Not what we ARE doing, but what Bush is supposedly not doing. Considering US aid already dwarfs any other country's contributions, the writers can't fault Bush for the substance of his response, so they attack him because he hasn't rushed back to Washington, because he hasn't gone on TV to deliver a Clinton-esque "I feel your pain" speech.
The Post trots out complaints by a few people, Wesley Clark among them, all of which I consider long-time Bush critics. Yet their complaints/suggestions border on the ridiculous. Gelb, for one, talks of the need for the Muslims in Indonesia to witness American benevolence. Clark is quoted as saying "One of the things people look for is a strong response that illustrates America's humanitarian values". Yes, the best way of showing 'message: We care" is to have Bush give a speech. WRONG! Who in Indonesia or Sri Lanka is watching TV right now? They're out looking for their relatives, they're looking for help. A speech is not help. The best way of demonstrating our values, of showing American benevolence is to actually do something. The best way of showing a strong response is to have relief material, all with a big USA stamped on the side of every box, showing up on US military aircraft.
C'mon, Post, can't you do better than this?
UPDATE: Thanks again, Glenn, for the referrals. And, Jim at the Kerry Spot does an even better job at trashing the Post article. I would expect no less of him.
UPDATE II: And, showing a puzzling unwillingness to listen to me, Bush went out and gave his I feel your pain talk. I'm sure everybody feels oh so much better now...
UPDATE III: A comment I came across puts it perfectly: "Bush can't win anything but a Presidential race. I suspect strongly that had he come out fast, early and hard after the tragedy, he would have been criticized for using a tragedy as a PR opportunity".