December 29, 2004

The "Stinginess" Question

I'm not really following the debate about whether the U.S. has been too "stingy" in delivering aid to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, etc. As I recall, disaster aid usually comes in waves, and tends to get upped over time as the scope of the tragedy becomes clearer. But hey, if cheap potshots at Bush force the administration to pony up more aid, so much the better. The U.S. can always do more than it actually does, and putting upward pressure on the aid amounts is always a good thing.

Meanwhile, though, I think Juan Cole had it right—the president could have gained a lot of traction in the Muslim world by zipping on over to Aceh, Indonesia, and pledging his support. But McQ at QandO finds this suggestion ridiculous:
Nor does [Cole] mention that the people of the region couldn't care less where Bush is or has stayed, as long as we help them. This is all simply a wonderful opportunity to again engage in a little gratuitous criticism of the man the left loves to hate.
"Couldn't care less"? What? Wasn't the president's entire re-election campaign based on those few moments when Bush stood at Ground Zero and spoke into a megaphone? Of course these symbolic gestures matter. They mattered on 9/11 and they matter now. Letting all of Indonesia know that the president of the richest and most powerful country in the world is personally concerned about the disaster—that seems like a pretty fucking big deal.
-- Brad Plumer 9:27 PM || ||