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December 31, 2004


Duncan Black notes NPR throwing facts down the memory hole:

Eschaton: You know, I'm happy that the Bush administration has decided to increase the promised [Indian Ocean tsunami] aid substantially, but that's no reason for NPR to keep reporting that the Bush administration has increased aid from the "initial offer of $35 million." The initial offer was $15 million. If the Bushies want to claim that was never their final offer, that's fine, but it certainly was their initial offer.

Posted by DeLong at December 31, 2004 09:19 PM

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No new years parties to go to, eh Brad?

Posted by: Paul G. Brown at December 31, 2004 09:26 PM

(Me neither.)

I think that, even with the $15 million number forgotten, a 10x difference should be significant enought to put a dent in all but the most addicted of Kool-Aid drinkers. The first may be important academically, but 350/35 v. 350/15, do you really notice the denominators' differences?

Posted by: James S. W. at January 1, 2005 03:11 AM

Blogger etiquette, please.
He should be referred to as Atrios, not Duncan Black. Only trolls on his blog refer to him as Duncan.

Posted by: ecoast at January 1, 2005 08:21 AM

Well so what? Ever hear of a “harmless error.” This more about the commenter than the thing being commented upon.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at January 1, 2005 08:21 AM

They called a press conference to announce the $15 million. It is one thing to take a baby step, something else to hold it up in front of the whole world as something to be proud of. Someone decided that this was something that should have attention paid to. It boomeranged right into their face. Too bad, so sad, and $350 mil is not going to erase the first impression. Who made the initial decision to go public with $15 million? ( a nickle per American).

Posted by: Bruce Webb at January 1, 2005 08:30 AM

This AM's Boston Globe is saying the original pledge was $4 million, then raised to $15 million, and then $35 million. ("Bush pledges $350m;
relief efforts crawling")

$4 million?

Even Fox has it:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,143002,00.html

Good gravy, even the Washington Times:


Posted by: knobboy at January 1, 2005 08:55 AM

This is a situation where appearance counts as much as reality.

Bush supporters will assert that Bush did right no matter what the facts may be on any given subject. It is a waste of time to debate with them.

But the point is that the Bush administration, rightfully or wrongfully, has a PR problem with the rest of the world - particularly the Muslim world. The Bush administration also needs the active cooperation of many of these countries in its so-called "War on Terror." These are problems which any administration should seek to correct when possible.

The disaster provided the Bush administration with an opportunity to correct its PR problem. Instead, the administration fumbled the ball.

The objective consequence of the Bush administration's conduct will be a growing willingness on the part of this region to view the loss of American lives with the same indifference as the Bush administration has appeared to view the loss of their lives.

No amount of rationalization of this situation by Bush supporters can change this objective circumstance.

Posted by: Another Duncan at January 1, 2005 10:07 AM

Folks, does it really need to be pointed out that $15 million is still a lot of money?

For instance, with $15 million you could refurbish a historic cafeteria building--almost twice!

(Couldn't get the hyperlink to work to source the cafeteria building example. It's here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-11-21-budget-bill-extras_x.htm.)

Posted by: Strange Doctrines at January 1, 2005 10:25 AM

Although if Bush were smarter, more widely read and harder-working he'd have had the machinery in motion several days sooner (and those lost days will cost many lives), let's give him credit for having awakened and taken vigorous action as soon as the dimensions of the tragedy were fully apparent. You don't have to look very far in history to find leaders who would have insisted on validating their failure to take immediate action by continuing to deny the need for action. Recall the refusal of some Japanese bureaucrats to accept US offers of help after the Kobe quake. Note that the Indian government seems to be refusing to allow outside aid to Andaman, and both the Indian and Indonesian governments seem to have been quite sluggish in mobilizing their own military resources (they've got ships and aircraft, too).

Graded on the curve, Bush probably rates at least a B- on this test. It sounds like he has mobilized a significant fraction of the military's quick-response resources, which at least on paper are impressive:


If mobilization of these resources has been quick enough to prevent massive loss of life to disease, it will have been far more important than nominal dollars of aid.

Although Clinton probably would have figured out on Sunday that the initial casualty figures were just the tip of the iceberg, and been much quicker off the mark, Bush seems to have caught on quickly enough to have some chance of containing the situation.

Posted by: jm at January 1, 2005 10:44 AM

US military analysts looking at satellite images would've had a pretty accurate idea of the extent of the destruction, and some pretty good ball numbers for the loss of life within the hour. Think about that...

Posted by: jra at January 2, 2005 12:17 PM

"Graded on the curve, Bush probably rates at least a B- on this test"

Absolute rubbish. And painfully hypocritical when viewed in the light of Bush's applause line during the 2000 campaign "We are challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations." Just blather for the rubes, evidently.

Any leader worth a tinker's damn would have recognized the magnitude of the disaster, including the opportunity to win hearts and minds among non-Christians/non-Westerners, and responded with a ferocious generosity.

This is a matter where are many human lives at stake, and an opportunity from a perspective of geo-political goodwill. It is not a spelling bee to be handicapped for the good of a child's self-esteem. You should be ashamed of your attempt to rationalize and minimize such blatant, negligent failure.

Posted by: Tim B. at January 3, 2005 09:40 AM

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