Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Limbaugh, Parks Book Their Seats on the Jerk Jet

If there were an abundance of justice in this world, and said justice had poetic license to act — certain persons in this world would swap places with the suffering citizens of Haiti. Of course Pat Robertson would be named on the passenger manifest of Justice Air's next flight from Pampered Prosperity to Port-au-Prince. And if I had my way as booking agent, two other nimrod passengers would be joining him.

I was conflicted when I wrote about Pat Robertson the other day. What can be said about this nimrod that is new or interesting? And when it's obvious the guy's motivation in saying appalling stupid things is a need for attention, to stay "relevant" and in the public eye, isn't simply ignoring him the better and more constructive thing to do? Yeah, probably. But I'm a weak person, in my soul, and I'm insufferable. Some things I just can't let slide. So it is with Limbaugh, who because of my susceptibility to The Ridiculous wins the moral (if inconsequential) victory of seeing his name in print on Feigned Outrage, on the strength of an obviously calculated bid to "make waves" in the Eastern Caribbean.
Limbaugh took to the airwaves with great vigor and vitriol last week, declaring that President Obama's attention to the crisis in Haiti was a cynical and opportunistic attempt to score political points. Geez, sound familiar, Rush? (Um, er, sound familiar, Phutatorius? All right, Writer's Conscience: knock it off . . .) Rush went on to suggest that Democrats will "use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country," adding that "Besides, we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax."

Now let's assume for a moment — this will take effort — that Limbaugh isn't completely full of shit here. Let's assume that the President's "motivations" for rallying citizen support for the Haitian relief effort and his orders to the U.S. military to assist with the transport and distribution of supplies are purely political. So frickin' what? At times I've given change to someone in the street, and I've felt good about myself afterward, and I've asked myself whether the fact that I felt good about myself — and so gained something from it — detracts somewhat from the pure benevolence of the act. The answer to that question is undoubtedly "Yes." No act of kindness is totally and completely selfless, and that fact should never — never ever ever — cause a person to refrain from acting kindly. Barack Obama is our President. He's therefore The Person in the World Best Positioned To Do Good for Haiti. That goodwill might gather to him as a result ought to be a secondary consideration.

We have aisle seats in coach and Business Class still available, Mr. Limbaugh. Please note that federal regulations prohibit smoking in the aircraft cabin, and we'll kick your fat, freaky ass if you tamper with the smoke detectors in the lavs.

Lest it should appear that the work of nutjob politicizing the Haiti crisis is exclusively the province of the American right, let's board our next passenger, Alexia Parks of The Huffington Post. In response to President Obama's appointment of Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush to lead the Haiti Relief Effort writes the following:
No, President Obama. NO! You cannot take this step. It is like opening the door to looters and thieves. This act must be undone. It is not bi-partisan. It
is foolhardy, and shows the degree to which the Bush and Cheney drones are still
undermining real change that must take place, top to bottom in Washington.

* * *

What Haiti needs is visionaries, not vacuous placeholders.
Ms. Parks goes on to suggest that the Bush appointment impliedly introduces Dick Cheney into the relief effort, presumably based solely on Bush's prior association with Cheney, as nothing I've read remotely suggests that Bush and Cheney signed on as a package (or, for that matter, than they're forever joined at the hip).

Somewhere in this post, there might be the shade of a suggestion that the Bush Administration's policies toward Haiti might delegitimize relief efforts led by Dubya. But you'd have to work really hard to extract that logic from Ms. Parks's effusion of outrage. At best, then, this is a lost opportunity to make a plausible point. At worst — and this is what I'm inclined to believe — this comment is politics at its most unreadable.

I'm sorry, Ms. Parks: you'll have to check your ideological baggage at the end of the jetway, as it won't be able to fit in any of the overhead bins.

And it raises an important corollary to the point I just made about Limbaugh: just as it ought to be immaterial why the U.S. is trying to get help to Haitians in great danger and distress, it ought, too, to be immaterial who does it. But this is an observation entirely lost on the likes of Ms. Parks. It puts me in mind of folks on the left who loved to complain that the U.S. government, under Clinton, did not adequately address the Taliban's deplorable treatment of Afghan women. And then, suddenly, when a Republican Administration sends troops in to dislodge that regime by force, many of the same folks objected.

At bottom, I think I need to be a better person. A lot of folks are pulling together to help alleviate the situation in Haiti — with their money, with in-kind donations, with their own blood, sweat, and tears. 99.99999997% of the people in this world have responded to this crisis in ways that attest to our shared human values. That ought to be enough for me.

And maybe it will . . . once we've cleared this Jerk Jet for takeoff.


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