Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Outsourcing Compassion

When President Bush was slow to respond publicly to the recent tsunami devastation in the Indian Ocean—and then offered aid comparable to what someone far down the Coalition of the Willing list might commit to Iraq—he was criticized for his lack of compassion. His spokesperson countered: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.'"

Then the rest of his defenders chimed in with: "[H]e rightly concluded that there was no point to seizing the tragedy for political gain and making public statements that won't do anything to help the people affected by the Tsunami."

And: "Yah, Clinton was always parading at natural disasters without actually doing anything except boinking his intern." Or something like that.

Now with raises to the government-sponsored aid in the pot approaching 3/5ths of Japan's, we see more evidence of the crafty Texas poker player we have in the White House.

He enlists his father and Clinton to lead America in a show of bi-partisan compassion, saying, "The greatest source of America's generosity is not our government; it's the good heart of the American people."

Can you spell jiu jitsu?

I won't get into it here whether America is really stingy when it comes to foreign aid. Or whether France should've sent aid to Florida after the hurricanes. Talk Radio has too high a signal-to-noise ratio on those topics already. Let's just step back and look at how skillfully Bush has used this occasion to reinforce his key message: America is not the government. The Government is not you. You don't have to send your money to the government.

Maybe Bush didn't seize upon the tragedy as quickly as his predecessor. But no political gain? Oh, my, this guy is good.


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