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WaPo on Bush: Insensitive, Freaky, Stingy

• Views: 1,125

Here’s the latest Bush-bashing media meme, already spreading like wildfire through the usual channels: that President Bush is “insensitive” to the suffering caused by the Indonesian tsunami. The Washington Post’s opening paragraph:

The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.

The Post goes on to inform us that President Bush isn’t just “insensitive,” he’s also “freaky.”

There was an international outpouring of support after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and 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.

The president of the Council on Foreign Relations thinks we’re missing our chance to buy the love of Islamic countries:

Some foreign policy specialists said Bush’s actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. “When that many human beings die — at the hands of terrorists or nature — you’ve got to show that this matters to you, that you care,” said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. …

Gelb said what appears to be a grudging increase in effort sends the wrong message, at a time when dollar totals matter less than a clear statement about U.S. intentions. Noting that the disaster occurred at a time when large numbers of people in many nations — especially Muslim ones such as Indonesia — object to U.S. policies in Iraq, he said Bush was missing an opportunity to demonstrate American benevolence.

After all, look how much love we get from Egypt for our $2 billion a year.

The last paragraph is designed to leave you with the impression that America is indeed a stingy nation:

Among the world’s two dozen wealthiest countries, the United States often is among the lowest in donors per capita for official development assistance worldwide, even though the totals are larger. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of 30 wealthy nations, the United States gives the least — at 0.14 percent of its gross national product, compared with Norway, which gives the most at 0.92 percent.

Notice how the Washington Post glosses over the data that says “totals are larger,” and reports only the statistic that makes us appear miserly.

But here’s what mainstream media isn’t showing us, using graphs of 2002 development aid from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development web site; first, the per capita graph, showing the US near the bottom:

The graph showing actual dollar amounts, however, reveals a very different picture:

Also note that these graphs only display “developmental” aid from the US government; American donations to non-governmental charities, which dwarf governmental handouts, are not included.

UPDATE at 12/29/04 12:16:42 pm:

Wizbang reports that the Washington Post also failed to inform us that Leslie H. Gelb, the only official willing to go on record in this story, was a senior advisor on John F. Kerry’s foreign relations team.

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