"Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."
That is the problem with Bush. He is incapable or unwilling of learning from his mistakes. After the election he had an opportunity to reunite the country, but he went directly for the Democrats throat. After the tsunami, he had the opportunity to start healing rifts with the Muslim world.
President Bush had an excellent opportunity to reach out to the Muslim world and show that we, America, are not at war with them, but extremist who wish to do us harm. Instead of reaching out and offering substantial help to the areas ravaged by the recent tsunami, he pledged a measly $35 million dollars to the relief effort. To put this in perspective, Bush's second term inauguration will cost $50 million dollars. That is right, we are going to spend $15 million more dollars on Bush's coronation than we are willing to give to an area where an estimated 115,000 people have died and the count is growing. We just told the world we are willing to spend more on a party than on the biggest natural disaster in our lifetime. Yes, as a nation, we do give more for international aid than any other country in the world. But, when you look at the amount we give in relation to our GDP, we are the lowest giving developed nation in the world. Thats right... dead last. Sweden leads the pac with .92% of their GDP. The US gives only .14%. The UK has pledged $96 million dollars. Even Spain is giving $54 million.
Now, you may ask, why should we give? What has Shri Lanka done for us lately? Well, when we give aid to other nations, it is not like when you or I give money to our local charities. We give and the only benefit we get is the warm thoughts of our charity helping to make someone else's life just a little bit better. But when the US gives (or does not give), it effects our stature as a world leader and our national security. We can be seen as a benevolent giant or a stingy ogre. It is like tips at a restaurant. Anyone who have ever waited tables before knows exactly what I am talking about. Yuo, the customer, owes the waiter nothing. There is no tip law. But, there is an expected tip. If you give 15%, the waiter will get what they expected (depending on the establishment) and everyone is happy. If you give 25%, that waiter is going to remember you and be very grateful. The next time you come in, you are going to get extra special service. But, if you give 5%, the waiter is insulted and you had better never show your face in that restaurant again, or there is going to be something in your food that you did not order (something with 6 legs). That is what Bush has done here. He just tipped 5%. He was expected to come to their aid and he brushed them off. We have no obligation to do it, but we do it because it is the right thing to do and because we need to improve our stature in the world right now. Instead, we just slapped them in the face.
I will give another example. The Greeks and the Turks hated each other (many still do). They have been fighting for centuries. After Turkey had a devastating earthquake, Greece, instead of sitting back and quietly smirking at Turkey's misfortune, they came through with a tremendous amount of aid and human help. The attitude of many Turks towards the Greeks changed dramatically. Not because the political climate had changed at all, but because Greeks came through in Turkey's time of need.
But what really, really irks me about Bush is that he took 4 days to make any meaningful offer of condolence. Not only is that politically stupid, that just shows poor character. He tried to justify it with this:
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.
What actions?... $35 million? Yeah, your actions Mr. Bush do speak volumes to your humanity and your character. You should be ashamed of yourself. But, alas, I know that you are too arrogant to ever feel shame.