Friday, December 31, 2004

A Camel, A Rich Man, and the Eye of the Needle

In less than a week, the death toll around the Indian Ocean has shot up exponentially. Remember how we thought at first it was 3,000 dead? How horrified Drudge seemed when he put up the screaming headline, "40,000 DEAD!" This morning, almost numb to statistics, we hear 120,000, with no end to the misery in sight.

It's bad enough that network and cable news seem always to focus on the blond-headed victims of the catastrophe, but our own leader has done anything but lead.

At first, El Presidente couldn't be bothered at all, bicycling and breaking twigs. Then he said, O, all right, $15 million, which was less than half what he was planning to spend on his Rich Man's Bash, a.k.a., his second inaugural party. So in the face of indignant criticism, he upped the amount of promised aid to $35 million, still less than he's spending on the big party, and now he's sending Colin Powell, a notorious bleeding heart, and his own brother other there in some sort of symbolic gesture of actually giving a good goddamn.

If El Presidente had a full half-ounce of the Christian charity which he claims to have coursing through his blood by the bucket, he'd donate that $40 million he's raised from other rich guys for his inauguration to the relief effort. (For the full measure of anxiety being suffered right now by upwardly mobile young Republicans who can't quite afford $10,000 to attend the "official inauguration events," and for a rueful laugh at the vanity of human wishes, read this in today's NYTimes.) How these great shining Christians can go forward with their frivolous celebration in the face of such loss and suffering is really quite beyond our powers to comprehend.

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