Friday, May 28, 2010

Greatest Humanitarian President

Which American president has the best record of helping the world's poor and oppressed? The chief contender may surprise you. According to the data in this BBC article George W. Bush has a record that I can't imagine any other president exceeding.

Here are the facts the BBC article lists:

  • Bush pumped $18 billion into fighting HIV/Aids, much of it in Africa.
  • He backed canceling $34 billion worth of debt for 27 African states.
  • He launched initiative that has halved Malaria in 15 African countries.
  • He led condemnation of Sudan's record in Darfur as genocide.
  • He pressed for north-south peace deal in Sudan.
  • He "saved millions of lives", according to aid activist Bob Geldof.
  • He backed Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia to battle Islamists.

Add to these achievements the fact that Bush liberated 50 million people from tyranny in Afghanistan and Iraq, and you'd think he'd receive every humanitarian award there is, particularly the Nobel Peace Prize. Indeed, he may be the greatest humanitarian ever to lead a nation.

Unfortunately, the Nobel Peace Prize doesn't go to people who've advanced the cause of the poor and oppressed and "saved millions of lives." It goes rather to people who make videos on global warming and people of African ancestry who give nice speeches and get elected president.

Let no one say that the Nobel committee lacks a keen sensitivity to the winds of political fashion, even if they're completely oblivious to what constitutes great achievements on behalf of humanity.


Dirty Laundry

A pair of articles at NRO explain the miasma of legal scandal that is slowly enveloping the White House. The first is by Michelle Malkin and the second is by Robert Costa.

For those who may have been distracted from the news recently the Pennsylvania Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Joe Sestak, let it slip some months ago that he was offered a position in the Obama administration in exchange for not challenging Arlen Specter in the primary. No doubt Sestak rues having ever admitted this because it turns out that such offers are felonious and he has placed both himself and the White House in a very difficult spot.

If Joe Sestak is telling the truth then a law has clearly been broken and someone in the White House, perhaps even the President, is in deep legal doo-doo. Even David Axelrod admitted as much last Sunday. And if Sestak is lying, which seems extremely unlikely, he's finished in his race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat.

The media has been loath to press the matter and Sestak has refused to say who offered him the job (though it can only have been a top official and it's very unlikely the offer was made without the President's connivance) nor what the job was (Sestak is a retired admiral and speculation is that the job was probably Secretary of the Navy). Sestak's stone-walling, however, can't last. As November approaches, the Pennsylvania media is going to be interested in nothing else but pressing Sestak on this. If he continues his non-cooperation the public is going to see him as just another dishonest pol and his chance of defeating Republican Pat Toomey will evaporate. Sestak didn't accept the job offer, but he hasn't been acting very honorably in this affair. A law has been broken, he alleges, but he refuses to help bring the law-breaker to justice.

On the other hand, if he identifies the administration official who offered him the job, everyone is going to realize that a high-level cabinet job could not have been offered without clearing it with the President himself. If Mr. Obama winds up being implicated in a crime, he could well be impeached if Republicans gain control of the congress. Even if it doesn't come to that, his poll numbers will likely slip right over the political event horizon and into the black hole of political irrelevance and impotence.

The White House could essentially call Sestak delusional or mendacious, but either option will probably cost them a Democrat Senate vote in November. Both the administration and Sestak are in a no-win situation in this, and it'll be interesting to see how the Obama people deal with it. My prediction is that someone fairly high up will be required to fall on his sword and take full responsibility, swearing, implausibly, that no one above him knew anything about it. The hapless scapegoat may go to jail, but that'll be seen as the only way to preserve the Obama presidency from scandal and further erosion of public esteem.

Update: Just as I was about to post this I saw that the Obama administration has prevailed upon Bill Clinton to agree to say that he approached Sestak's brother and through him offered Joe Sestak a non-paying advisory position in the administration in exchange for not running against Specter. If this were true then no laws were broken, but is there anyone anywhere in the world so naive as to think this is true? How could Clinton offer a job in the Obama administration unless he was authorized to do so, and why would anyone think that Sestak would be persuaded to give up a Senate race to take a non-paying advisory job? This tactic is, in my opinion, tantamount to an admission by the Obama administration that they're guilty of something serious and they're desperate to find a way out.

For an excellent analysis of why the White House explanation doesn't add up read Dan Foster's piece at NRO.