Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Compassionate Conservative" Bush Found Time For Schiavo, But Not For Minnesota Shooting Victims

President Bush calls himself a "compassionate conservative," or at least he does when it's convenient, and usually when there are votes at stake.

He cut short a vacation in Crawford, Texas -- the first time in his four-plus years as president -- to fly to Washington on March 19 and act in favor of Terri Schiavo's parents.

But when it came time for him a few days later to act presidential after the deadly March 22 shootings at a high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota -- to show his "pro-life" attributes -- Bush was quiet for four days.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was also silent in the days following the shootings by 16-year-old Jeff Weise, which killed 10, including himself. (To be fair, Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Patrick Ragsdale and Ruben Barrales, assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs, attended funeral services.)

***

Bush's response to the Red Lake shootings sharply contrasts with President Clinton's reaction to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which 15 died.

Clinton spoke to reporters the night of the shootings, offering condolences tot he families, but also saying: "after a little time has passed, we need to have a candid assessment about what more we can do to try to prevent these things from happening." In his weekly radio address four days later, Clinton called for new gun control initiatives, more federal funding for school safety and efforts by the entertainment industry to reduce the marketing of violent video games and movies to young people.

(Bush, it should be noted, has cut funding for a $180 million program launched by the Clinton administration to place more police officers in schools, reducing spending to just $5 million. Bush's most recent budget unsuccessfully sought to eliminate a $437 million program that provides grants to states to fund school anti-violence and anti-drug programs, and replace it with an $85 million school safety grant program.)

In fact, some are comparing Bush's early response to the Red Lake shootings to his widely criticize initial response to the December tsunami that cut through 11 Asian countries (http://jabbs.blogspot.com/2004/12/eleven-countries-suffer-their-911.html). The administration initially pledged a meager $35 million of relief, then boosted that to $350 million a few days later, and ultimately included $950 million of spending in the administration's $82 billion "emergency spending" defense bill ( http://jabbs.blogspot.com/2005/02/82-billion-emergency-spending-bill.html).

***

Criticism of Bush's initial silence on Red Lake came from several corners:

"From all over the world we are getting letters of condolence, the Red Cross has come, but the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing," said Clyde Bellecourt, a Chippewa Indian and local community leader. "When people's children are murdered and others are in the hospital hanging on to life, he should be the first one to offer his condolences."

"I hope that he would say something," said Victoria Graves, a cultural educator at Red Lake Elementary School on the reservation. "It's important that there's acknowledgment of the tragedy. It's important he sees the tribes are out here. We need help."

"He has not been real visible in Indian country," said former senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO). "He's got a lot of irons in the fire, but this is important."

***

So why was Bush's reaction to Red Lake so different than his response to the congressional efforts to restore Terri Schiavo's feeding tube? Why didn't our "compassionate conservative" president treat each issue with equal leadership?

Some critics put it this way: Conservative Christians pressed Bush to intervene on behalf of Schiavo's parents, while the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment groups generally look to minimize the relevance of a political response to bloodbaths like Red Lake.

"The bottom line is the gun lobby is too important a constituency to the Republican Party for them to do anything," Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a group that advocates gun control, told the Los Angeles Times. "The sad reality is if Terri Schiavo had been shot, the administration would not have lifted a finger to help her."

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More people would be concerned about this issue, even staunch Republicans and conservatives, if all the mainstream media news commentary on Bush's failure to lift a finger on the Minnesota school shootings had only also been punctuated by the kind of research found on JABBS.
I repeat:
"Bush, it should be noted, has cut funding for a $180 million program launched by the Clinton administration to place more police officers in schools, reducing spending to just $5 million. Bush's most recent budget unsuccessfully sought to eliminate a $437 million program that provides grants to states to fund school anti-violence and anti-drug programs, and replace it with an $85 million school safety grant program."

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JABBS can't be serious about this one. I mean there are a lot more important things going on in the world than some Indian reservation freak gunning down some high school bullies. But I guess you'll highlight anything that makes Bush look bad. Why should Bush do anything: The freak shot himself. End of story. Now let's move on.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above poster is being ridiculous.

I guess he not only drinks the conservative Kool-Aid -- he manufactures it. Sad.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not drinking it pal. I'm smoking it. As in the Indian Peace Pipe, get my drift. Why don't you get off your intellectual high horse and face facts. Most of America, save a few liberal cry babies like yourself, forgot about this story 10 minutes after it happened.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, just like America forgot about Columbine. You're being ridiculous.

The problem is the conservatives are controlling the agenda in Washington, and the NRA dictates (with its funding) that the GOP shouldn't care about such things.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the above comments are unbelievable. Look at all the concern over a single human Schiavo? Shouldn't similar concern be expressed over several innocent children gunned down (they weren't all "bullies."). And why the racial snippet?
That's the entire problem with the Bush Administration and its conservative religious croonies. Blatantly hypocritical and disproportionate regard for people throughout the world gauged solely on their race, income level, nationality and value as a political object.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets be realistic here and put this to rest.

Could the president have shown more "concern" over the Minnesota situation. Yes. Was it imperative. No. Do presidents pick and choose what to respond to based on political views and concerns. Most definitely. All presidents do. Are some better at conveying "concern" than others. Yes (see Bill Clinton).

WRT Schiavo : this was a pure calculated political play that i believe has backfired. I am not suggesting that some people in congress or elsewhere did not have true feelings on the subject BUT there are many similar situations all over the country that get no press. What happened here? The conservatives saw a perfect little storm they thought they could tame and use for political purposes.....you had a loving family, a tragic heart wrenching situation, a case that had been litigated by the "infamous" judges, a husband who appeared to want to do the right thing. What better set of facts to use to play on some of the bigger dividing issues (i.e. right to life, abortion, judicial overreach, the court system etc.)

So congress overstepped itself to pass this ridiculous law figuring if the courts ignored them, they could use it as a weapon against judges. If the courts favored them, it was a win for right to life etc. They figured they could not lose and could even make dems look weak in the process (because noone wanted to vote against it for how it would look). They got the president to sign the law (he basically had to and even seemed uncomfortable with it--but he was in a box on this).

But it backfired. Tom Delay became the leading spokesman-an unmitigated disaster--not to mention the comments he has made subsequently (hello, dems, there is a lesson here-think howard dean). I believe congress has begun to show its colors to the centrist public who are realizing the Delay crew, which has been controlling the House, is out of control and power mad. The people, who actually have the final word on this, have judged Delay and congress as having made a mistake. and it will now not go away unless they change their ways-which they wont. Tom Delay, in my opinion, is done. He will be gone. But this entire thing hurts republicans--they were not able to tame the storm. The dems have a chance here to handle this properly--we will see what happens next. Maybe people will wake up and realize that as the conservatives show how far to the right they have moved, the centrists are up for grabs. The center is the group that will define which party controls going forward. All pundits who say otherwise are just plain wrong.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see your point, but Republican commentators are already obsessed with pointing out how the Democrates have already! somehow blown it in trying to capture political points and grab the center following the right's failed handling of the Schiavo fiasco.
Isn't that the Republicans' response to everything these days, instead of focusing on mistakes of their own party (the Bush Administration) they try to divert attention to the Democrats' failure to capitalize on those mistakes?
But we've drifted off the point of Bush's lack of concern for Minnesota school massacre.
Recall when Clinton directed attention to Columbine how it made school violence a national issue.
Bush's curious silence may be designed to disguise the fact that he won't continue to support Clinton's school safety and security programs. And the media sleeps.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree on all accounts. I think the dems should somewhat ignore republicans response. the dems need to point out where they stand on issues, and the center will come to them. I say this because the republicans, by their actions and words, are betraying the centrist group that leaned their direction over the past years. as long as the dems do not come across as angry, i hate bush, creepy types, i believe they will be in a strong position to regain some semblance of power. To do that, the dems must be careful who they choose to have represent them on issues. Dean, Kennedy and the far leftists need to be viewed as fringe elements and let them speak on only those issues that are not centrist grabbing items. Dems need semi centrist spokeman, and some that are charismatic as well.

I did not think i would say this but i believe the republicans are in danger in congress. the president is a different story and economy, iraq and palestine will go a long way to determining the next election.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you guys see that book being touted on Jon Stewart last night? It was all about the need for a "centrist revolution," because the far-right vs. far-left debates on television don't represent most Americans.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

didnt see it but i agree with that premise wholeheartedly. will have to look into that.

5:28 PM  

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