Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

"Bush Poor Mouths The World"

The Bush administration has been backpedaling since the first faulty words rolled off their collective tongues. The first words? "15-million dollars." That was the hefty sum they initially commited to the relief efforts in Asia, where the staggering death toll keeps climbing. 15-million. Pathetic. Sad. Mean. Typical.

The best way to put this in perspective is to compare it to what is being planned for Mr. Bush's second inaugural, which estimates say will cost around 40-million dollars.

Keep this image in your head; 100-thousand dead bodies on the beaches of south Asia on one side. On the other? 1000 rich buddies of the President, parading and posturing around DC, like prize porkers. On one side, traumatized people who are desperate for even a trace of edible food and potable water. On the other, portly white men bursting their cumberbunds, stuffed full of steak. This group will sip champagne and shake their heads when discussing the tsunami's aftermath, and then they'll all agree, "We give more money than any other country, dammit! We're a giving people." Of course we give a lot of money, when you count the raw dollars. But, we are pikers when you look at per capita spending on foreign aid. But in DC, during the Inaugural, that's not something you'll hear much about.

It is abundantly clear that Bush and his henchmen are incapable of "doing the right thing." With a disaster of this magnitude, we should have pledged "whatever it takes" and we should have done it right away, not three days later while Dubya moseyed around the ranch in his usual stupor, trying to pretend that this didn't happen. Of course, in reality, he wasn't in a catatonic state (though it so oftens appears so). He and his political advisors were busy polling, researching and calculating the plus/minus ratio of the event. How would the Right react to pledges of massive foreign aid? Could we lose a seat in the House if we give too much? How can we make W look strong and compassionate, yet still keep the aid number low? That's what took three days, not "an assessment of the true nature of the disaster."

We have the opportunity to create some good will in the world and, at the same time, relieve the suffering of thousands of people, but I doubt this administration is up to such a win-win the task. While it still plays in the red states, that vacant sneer of Mr. Bush is seen for what it is around the world, the glassey-eyed equivalent of a middle finger.