If the initial $15 million that the vacationing George Bush offered the survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami wasn't "stingy" -- which it most certainly was -- then why did the Bush administration so quickly add another $20 million to that relief when they got called out by a U.N. official for stinginess?
There was poor Colin Powell -- who's fast becoming a cartoon representation of his own ineffectiveness, in an administration that manifestly does not listen to him -- on CNN practically begging the world not to think us stingy.
The point is not that some of us blue Americans think the American response has been slow and inadequate but that the rest of the world thinks it, especially Muslim nations like Indonesia, directly and devastatingly impacted, which might be obliged to soften its criticism of the USA over the Iraq War and more importantly beef up its own operations against Islamic extremists in its own borders.
Fact is, there's a low grumble among many countries about El Presidente, who so far hasn't felt any need to leave off his done-as-a-photo-op cutting of brush on his Crawford ranch to speak out on the tragedy. John Harris and Robin Wright have an article about Bush's detachment -- and how cold and uncaring it appears to much of the world's population -- in this morning's WashPost.
Harris & Wright point out that the leading American voice speaking out about the tragedy is Bill Clinton, a man whose huge personal immorality the Bushies like to play as a trump card in every game.
According to Harris & Wright, "even some administration officials familiar with relief efforts said they were surprised that Bush had not appeared personally to comment on the tsunami tragedy. 'It's kind of freaky,' a senior career official said."
(As we type this, we hear the radio report that Bush has now made some sort of public statement.)
LET'S TALK MORALITY UPDATE: Eric Alterman points out that the USA is "devoting less than half of what Bush is planning to spend on his own inauguration to helping people recover from one of the worst natural disasters in human history."