After saying they will up their paltry offer of $15 million to $35 million for the relief effort in regard to the horrible earthquake/tsunami disaster in the Northern Indian Ocean, the White House attempted to justify the stuffed flightsuits continuing adventures in leisure.
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.
Bush's deepened public involvement puts him more in line with other world figures. In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder cut short his vacation and returned to work in Berlin because of the Indian Ocean crisis, which began with a gigantic underwater earthquake. In Britain, the predominant U.S. voice speaking about the disaster was not Bush but former president Bill Clinton, who in an interview with the BBC said the suffering was like something in a "horror movie," and urged a coordinated international response.
Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "
Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
Okay, that last paragraph has two huge head-shaking moments.
First, what the fuck is wrong with expressing sympathy in the face of a huge tragedy? Jiminy jeebus, faux sympathy and gratuitous grandstanding (on top of rubble his inattention reaped no less) got the Chimp elected for once in November (maybe). You think he'd appreciate the power of a gesture, even if he did not mean it (Clinton did mean it, but then for all his faults he was no cipher).
Second, "actions speak louder than words"? Wrap yourselves around that one as a defense proclaimed by the Bush Administration.