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Making Political Hay From a Tragedy

The Haitian earthquake is an enormous tragedy made worse by politicians and the media.  I note with dismay that relief supplies are backed up because of the terrible destruction in the port and also at the international airport, which has only one operating runway.  Nevertheless, US pols like Hillary Clinton and the major TV networks have managed to make the trip and have inserted themselves into the relief process.  What exactly will Clinton contribute by being there apart from snarling up relief convoys due to her massive security escort?

I applaud the efforts by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to raise money for relief because they have the sense to be doing it from the US without demanding a photo op in front of the collapsed Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince.  Assuming a couple of airplanes arrived with Hillary, wouldn’t it have been more helpful to have filled the aircraft with food and water instead of Clinton and a gaggle of bureaucrats and reporters?  And do we really need to have Brian Williams and his counterparts from the other networks reporting live?  How many aircraft did NBC require to bring in Williams and their news team?    And likewise CBS, ABC, and Fox.  If I were a Haitian dying for lack of a bottle of water while watching a reporter perform in front of some ruin I would look around for a rock to hurl, no doubt about it.

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#1 Comment By Steve Hogan On January 16, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

Hillary is a media whore. Turn on a camera and she’s bound to show up and bore us all silly with her inane comments. The woman is a public menace and a disgrace to our country.

Hillary, just go away!

#2 Comment By Mark Garcia On January 17, 2010 @ 12:30 am

As a conservative I can only say that your post is way out of line. It’s the media’s job to report the new, and it’s the all star anchor’s who get the job done best. I applaud them for their efforts.
Save your criticism of the media for when they actually deserve it.

#3 Comment By R J Stove On January 17, 2010 @ 3:07 am

A quarter-century ago this year, another world tragedy – the Ethiopian famine – inspired seemingly endless “barbaric yawps” (h/t to Walt Whitman) from such distinguished political analysts as Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John, Sir Bob Geldof, and Dame Boy George. No econometric niceties – or acquaintance with the scholarship of Lord Bauer – impeded the fund-raising approach of, in particular, Sir Bob, who alternated between demands to “give us your money” and demands to “give us your f**king money”.

The song ran, “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas?”. Colonel Mengistu certainly knew it was Christmas. When the Live Aid “famine relief” money completed its one-way trip from London’s Wembley Stadium straight into Addis Ababa’s presidential palace, he must’ve thought all his Christmases had come simultaneously. I wonder which particular Haitian politician will be the first to have his Lear jet subsidized and his Swiss account enriched by Oxfam, the U.N., etc.

#4 Comment By Barney Rebble On January 17, 2010 @ 10:28 am

You are presenting a false picture of the situation.

Try looking at the real news:

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#5 Comment By Jack Tracey On January 17, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

The grandstanding by politicians, celebrities and news media is to be expected in this case. The fact that it’s close to home makes it all the more inevitable that even d-list members of these trades will try to get in on the act.

I’m sure they’re a (potentially poisonous) nuisance to the people now suffering and the people now actually helping them, but they may still be of some use as the need for relief and support drags on. I see a humanitarian long slog that will make a lot of people feel good about themselves.

I also see a failed state– a logistically convenient laboratory where progressives can show how nation-building is SUPPOSED to be done.

An aquaintance works for Care. She and her colleagues are serious folks. I haven’t asked yet, but I’d imagine I won’t hear any complaints about powerful people and nosey journalists showing their faces and making the most out of the story. It all helps to raise money.

#6 Comment By T. J. Iom On January 17, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

@ Steve Hogan

Have you ever commented on this website before? Have you ever looked at any of the comments in other articles?

The vast majority of people who come here to read articles have a genuine concern for the state of the American Republic and, accordingly, they make a serious attempt to comment on these articles in a manner that complements the articles or politely disagrees with appropriate facts and reason.

You use the type of language that is more consistent with the Fox News forums (i.e. “media whore”). Please post your mindless hate speech there.

I thought these comment sections were monitored. Obviously not.

#7 Comment By RockyMtnPatriot On January 17, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

I’m sorry, but you’re being facetious, partisan, small minded and ridiculous. As Secretary of State, Hillary can get on the phone and mobilize departments of the U.S. Government to take action. She can create liaisons with relief organizations on the ground in Haiti and order supplies and personnel where they will do the most good. She can get in a helicopter and fly to areas where her presence and her command stature will solve snafus and ease worries that nothing is happening. And she can speak to the aforementioned press and demonstrate that the U.S. is directly involved…a bit of PR the U.S. badly needs after our bungled efforts in 2005 in Indonesia, when Geo. Bush seemingly didn’t care enough to send direct spokespersons. In short, she is the representative of the U.S., on the ground, getting things done. I hardly think this is political theater, so much as our government actually giving a damn. Which you, as a pundit and critic, apparently do not.

#8 Comment By R J Stove On January 18, 2010 @ 4:22 am

@ RockyMtnPatriot praises Hillary Clinton for representing “our government actually giving a damn”.

My own impression – fortified by a remark by Reagan – was that genuine American patriotism actually had some connection with feeling a certain healthy dread toward the words “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” The survivors of the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995 seem to have been pretty self-reliant:

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As were those of the frightful 1923 earthquake (a body count comparable to Haiti’s) which wiped out most of Tokyo. The city was rebuilt within five years, without major foreign aid or, so far as I am aware, foreign aid at all.

One difference, of course, between Japan / Indonesia / Haiti on the one hand, versus 1984-1985 Ethiopia on the other, was that the former catastrophes were natural, whereas the Ethiopian horror – a truth which eluded Geldof and co – was entirely man-made.

@ T. J. Iom: I believe (though I don’t actually know) that all comments, whatever the topic, are in fact monitored by TAC staff members before being put on the blog. That said, I share your aversion to language – about anyone, even the unappealing Hillary Clinton – like “media whore”.

#9 Comment By Philip Giraldi On January 18, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

Dear Rocky, you have no idea the disruption that a SecState visit causes with its massive security, media presence, and endless motorcades. I have seen it first hand more than once. Her physical presence is not needed to show seriousness.

Mark, you must be joking when you say that “as a conservative” our media has a responsibility to report the news. They haven’t done so in years, prefering touchy-feely stuff without any depth.

Can’t see personally how a lot of politicos and journalists wandering around are helping the Haitians one bit.

#10 Comment By Philip Giraldi On January 20, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

Eric Margolis has reported that “a French aircraft carrying a full operating theater was not allowed to land so that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could fly in and make a speech.”