Predictably, the Washington Post has decreed that President Bush is insensitive to the human tragedy in South Asia because he didn’t emerge quickly enough from his Crawford ranch to express his sympathies to the victims. According to the Post:
The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. … Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums — as well as Bush’s decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy — showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
And when the president decided to take action, the Post suggested that it was not on his own initiative, but in response to the media’s prodding. Said the Post:
After a day of repeated inquiries from reporters about his public absence, Bush late yesterday afternoon announced plans to hold a National Security Council meeting by teleconference to discuss several issues, including the tsunami, followed by a short public statement.
You might expect that Old Media liberals would react this way, always looking for angles to blame Republicans and conservatives for things — after all, they must be at least partially responsible for such tragic examples of human suffering since they are presumptively uncompassionate.
But the president’s aides, thankfully, are not standing silent at the unwarranted criticism. Many of them rightly pointed out that Bill Clinton was too quick to rush to the cameras to appear empathetic at times like this.
Funny they should mention that. As a matter of fact, I read just this morning that Clinton, though out of office as far as I know, has already jumped to the microphones to offer his sympathy and advice to world leaders. Clinton suggested that their be a coordinated effort to aid the victims of the tragedy (a novel idea). Clinton said:
“It is really important that somebody take the lead in this,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “I think one of the problems is when everybody takes responsibility it’s almost like no one’s responsibility.”
(Hat Tip: Drudge).
Also see Jim Geraghty’s excellent post on this at the Kerry Spot. As Geraghty notes:
Notice all the dogs who didn’t bark – no Harry Reid, no Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Albright, Kennedy. No one who actually has to face the voters is taking this moment to criticize the president. And the argument is pretty lame – “Never mind all these concrete actions to help the victims, the president hasn’t cried in front of the cameras to show he cares.”
Amen to that. I too, had the feeling when reading the Post piece that these references to unnamed sources criticizing the president were actually just the Post writers themselves, typically injecting themselves into the “news” with their painfully biased commentary.