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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/22/10

Son of "Agent of Beelzebub" the wrong choice for Haiti

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Message Linda Pentz Gunter

Last December I sent out one of those en masse family "holiday letters" which, being a paganish sort of person, I unabashedly refer to as the "Christmas letter." In it, I described an adventure that befell us in Kennebunkport, Maine last summer when, after dining at a rather-too-posh restaurant, we endured a series of mishaps. My husband tripped and fell in the dark parking lot, bloodying his nose and (luckily only temporarily) losing his rather-too-expensive solar watch. The next day I awoke with food poisoning and ended up in the nearest emergency room. My husband attributed these disasters to "the agent of Beelzebub," our having glimpsed George H.W. Bush that previous night dining privately in the same restaurant.

I loved his description and used it in my Christmas letter which went to, among others, his conservative Christian relatives in Mississippi. I admit it was only after I had mailed the letters that I realized they might take exception to the Bush reference. But then, I told myself, they have no delusions about our political persuasion. And it's humor, after all.

I was stunned, therefore, to discover that these relations actually believed that we actually believed that Bush senior was responsible for our cascade of catastrophes. I was thus chided in a letter sent by one relative to my husband, the author declaring that our offending epistle had been hidden from the more senior and fundamentalist members of the family lest they keel over with a coronary.

My amazement was at first predicated on their having utterly missed the humor, which I put down to it having been delivered with the characteristic British traits of my native land (plenty of satire, sarcasm, irony and self-deprecation). "They are totally insulated," my husband added, explaining that the children are home-schooled, precisely to avoid any contact with the real "agents of Beelzebub," which would be people like me, or to shield them from learning, for example, that a black man was currently occupying the White House.

But my greater amazement centered on the fact that the wicked deeds of the Bush clan seem to go not only unpunished but virtually unremarked upon and even, in the case of our Mississippi kin, lauded and applauded. Apparently my husband's relatives and millions of others are somehow seduced by Bush senior's polished, WASPy veneer into believing him incapable of evil. (Since Baby George is neither polished nor WASPy I am not sure why they are similarly beguiled by junior). Despite their strong Christian beliefs, our relatives do not consider that the harm done unto others by the Bush family is wrong.

George H.W. Bush, as vice-president under Ronald Reagan, was directly involved in the Iran-Contra affair and its subsequent cover-up. Iran-Contra led to the loss of countless lives in Central America. Bush Sr., claimed he was "out of the loop" on the arms deal and then, as his own presidency came to a close, pardoned all the implicated Iran-contra figures, even those who had been found guilty. During his earlier tenure as CIA director, Bush covertly supported one of the world's most murderous regimes in Chile and deliberately misled the FBI about the DC assassinations of the Chilean diplomat, Orlando Letelier (along with Ronni Moffitt). These two examples are, of course, just the tip of the ugly iceberg.

The sins of the son remain fresher in our collective memories and do not need to be listed here. That's why a feeling of utter disgust mingled with more than a touch of disappointment swept over me when I watched President Obama usher forward George W. Bush -- smirk ever-present -- along with Bill Clinton, to coordinate fundraising for stricken Haiti. Why them? And why, especially, W? Wasn't he in charge during Hurricane Katrina, a not inconsiderable tragedy on our own soil, but a storm in a teacup compared to Haiti? Didn't he botch that relief effort, thus demonstrating an utter lack of skill and sensibility in this area? And isn't the choice of W an insensitive one, even an insult to Haitians, given that the Bush regime effectively "deposed" Haiti's democratically-elected if imperfect president Aristide in 2004?

It's time for President Obama to dispense with his annoying and ineffective Bipartisanship-Gone-Wild approach which appears to be alienating the very demographic that got him elected in the first place. Choosing high-profile, but empty figureheads may momentarily grab media attention, but effective relief for Haiti is a major challenge, not a publicity stunt.

A far better choice would have been individuals who actually have some hands-on, on-the-ground experience with relief work, international aid and natural disasters. Say, one of the leaders of Doctors Without Borders or CARE, for example?

A call for funding should come from people we trust and respect. That's not George W. Bush. Except, unfortunately, for our relatives in Mississippi and, apparently, for far too many other Americans like them.

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Linda Gunter is a former journalist who continues to write columns for newspapers and on-line sites. As a reporter she wrote for Reuters, the Times (UK), the New York Times and numerous newspapers and magazines and was a broadcaster with the USA and (more...)
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