George Bush has already taken heavy criticism for his stingy and belated offer of help to the tsumani-stricken region of south Asia. He deserved it! Colin Powell is now on the stomp trying to whitewash the offer as a flexible one that will rise as demand necessitates. (Three cheers for Mr. Powell. He will be so glad to escape from this administration.)
Trouble is - the President is strapped for cash. His disastrously miscalculated war in Iraq has opened a bottomless pit of spending for which the nation will be paying for decades to come. Domestic programs are being nickle and dimed to death for his face-saving nation-building enterprize. Where will he find the $350 million relief money?
Remember when the President sat for 7 silent minutes in a classroom after he heard the news of the WTC attacks? With the same craven inactivity he sat in Crawford, Texas enjoying his family Christmas while the rest of the world was jumping into action to respond to the earthquake tragedy. When he finally awoke from his indecision his talk was of LEADING the rescue and recovery action after a few hasty phone calls to India and Australia and an offer of $15 million. Not surprisingly this has been judged as yet more evidence of his isolationist and arrogant role in the world.
It would be heart-warming and endearing if, for once, the United States forgot about image and posture and simply rolled up its sleeves and buckled down to the task with everyone else, LIKE everyone else. Mercifully, the US agencies and organizations that are now on the job in south Asia are not infected with the same mentality as their President. They will be powerful and effective.