Sunday Snapshot: Haiti and Massachusetts

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Today, four questions and four answers, the combination of which sufficiently sum up the wisdom and commentary on the Sunday Shows. First, Jake Tapper, asking President Bush about conservative concerns about the Haitian response.
TAPPER:  And following up on that, there have been some prominent conservative voices who have expressed a concern that the U.S. has done so much for Haiti already and throwing money at Haiti isn't going to solve the problem, because that's -- it's a corrupt government, and the money never goes to the right people. How do you make sure it goes to the right people?

BUSH: Well, first of all, the first concern is the one that everybody ought to be thinking about, and that is to help save lives. I mean, I've seen it on the TV screens.  You've seen it on the TV screens.  There's just unbelievable devastation.You read the -- the e-mail report from -- from a person who's obviously desperate.  We've got to deal with the desperation.  And there ought to be no politicization of that. Secondly, obviously, there needs to be a strategy that -- that makes sense to people.  And -- and the president has said that, prior to the devastation, there was such a strategy that would be able to deal with Haiti as it is with a bright future. And the question -- fundamental question for the country is, do we care?  Beyond the storm, do we -- or the earthquake, do we care? And the answer is, I think we should, and I think we ought to care from a humanitarian perspective and I also think from a strategic perspective, because it makes sense to have a stable democracy in our neighborhood.

Second, from CNN, Sanjay Gupta asks Hillary Clinton about the United States's special obligation to Haiti.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  It's been a series of reasons, Sanjay.  I mean, it was a colony.  It was largely populated by slaves.  It was never recognized -- the United States didn't recognize it when it won its independence.  Other countries didn't help it.  We even occupied it for a period of time in the 20th century.  They had a series of bad leaders who didn't really help the people.  It's just an unfortunate confluence of events.  And yet, we know that Haitian Americans are some of the most successful people we have in many of our communities from Florida to New York.  So the ingredients are all there, and what I want to see is a good partnership with the Haitian Government and the international community to help the people of Haiti now build bigger, better into the future.    

QUESTION:  We're talking a lot about the humanitarian mission.  Is a natural disaster in Haiti the same as a natural disaster in another country, in terms of the U.S. response? 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, I think because it's a neighbor, we feel a real need.  But we respond.  We've responded in the past in our own hemisphere and obviously around the world.  The tsunami in 2004 is the last great disaster that we had.  But I think, too, that there's a special connection.  There are family connections and personal experiences.  I can't tell you how many Haitian Americans have called and emailed -- doctors and nurses and teachers and business leaders who have family here, who come back here all the time.  The Catholic Church is very important here, and many other faith organizations do mission work here.  So it's really remarkable how many people feel a personal connection to Haiti in our country.

Third, Tucker Carlson on how the Massachusetts Senate race is a referendum on the president's policies.

TAPPER:  And Democrats are trying right now to -- to gain some steam in Massachusetts with this bank fee that President Obama has proposed on -- on going after bank bonuses, purportedly, with the new bank fee.  Do you think that's going to have any traction?

CARLSON:  This is late-stage alcoholism.  This is denial, OK?  This race is not about Martha Coakley.  Sure, she's a bad candidate.  John Kerry keeps getting reelected from Massachusetts, so that's no barrier to getting elected in that state.  It's not about Martha Coakley.  It's about the president's policies. His health care plan is polling at 36 percent in Massachusetts right now.  Nationally, it's polling at 44 percent.  It's lower in the most liberal state in the country, probably because they already have a species of it under Romneycare. The point is, this is a referendum and it's explicit -- if you watch what Scott Brown is saying on the stump, it's an explicit referendum on Obama's policies, economic policies more broadly and health policy more specifically.  That's all it's about.  And Democrats need to figure that out and respond to it, or they're really going to get creamed in the midterms.

And finally, from Meet the Press, Mark Halperin and Karen Hughes exchange views on the president's first year.

MR. GREGORY:  Mark Halperin, you know, the president himself said recently the American people are right to be deflated about where we are at this point, which is not an admission that he doesn't, you know, that he thinks he's doing a bad job, but the governing is difficult and that the problems are difficult.

MR. HALPERIN:  Well, look, go back to the campaign.  The country took a risk on Barack Obama, he was untested.  And if you look at what Hillary Clinton and John McCain both said about him, they said, "He's just words.  He doesn't know how to run the government." I think, ironically, it's just the opposite.  He's done, I think, an extraordinary job running the government, as John said, under difficult circumstances.  He managed the economic crisis and kept the world from going into a depression.  He staffed the government with very quality, quality people.  He showed he could be commander-in-chief and manage these two difficult wars.  What I think, ironically, the problem has been is he's not inspired the country to feel a sense of optimism and renewal and to be unified in a bipartisan way.  Those are the things I think people thought he would excel at.  Those are, I think, are the problems.  He's making progress in governance, not necessarily in that bully pulpit leadership.

MS. HUGHES:  I think he really misread the country.  I mean, 2009 was a year of the greatest anxiety I've ever seen among the American people.  People were worried.  They felt they were at the whim of these big forces beyond their control--you know, Wall Street and banks failing and businesses that were too big to fail.  And rather than calm that anxiety, I worry that President Obama in being overly ambitious and pushing this massive health care that people worry we can't pay for and, and will have unintended consequences, he actually exacerbated that anxiety.  And so I think he fundamentally misread the country.  And I, I have to disagree with you, Mark, about rescuing the economy, I think that happened before President Bush left office when they took the action that they did on TARP, and the banks have now repaid much of that money, but that's what stabilized the economy and prevented the collapse of the financial system.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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