BOW Award

May 10, 2008

Last week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award entry was a fun one.  Certainly it was lighter than most of those that came before it.  And, I’ll warn you now, it was far lighter than this week’s is going to be.

As usual, we have no shortage of nominees.  There’s John McCain, who during several appearances this week repeated his claim that Hamas, the Middle East terrorist organization, had “endorsed” Barack Obama for President.  There’s Hillary Clinton, who spent the latter half of the week talking about how Obama won’t get the votes of “hard-working Americans, white Americans” come the fall.  How is it that she isn’t accused of being an elitist and a racist?  Does “hard-working American” equal “white American”?  Do African Americans not count as “hard-working”?  And does she think so poorly of her low income white supporters that she thinks they’re incapable of voting for an African American candidate?  She should know better.

Then there’s the voter in Greenwood, Indiana who happened to be at an Obama campaign stop a day or two before the Indiana primary.  This was in a restaurant, and as the candidate approached his table, the man waved him away, saying, “I can’t stand him. He’s a Muslim. He’s not even pro-American as far as I’m concerned.”  News flash, dude:  He’s NOT Islamic.  He’s a Christian.  I mean, come on!  Did you totally miss the Reverend Wright craziness?  And while we’re at, did it ever occur to you that there are millions of Americans who are both Muslim and PRO-America?  Idiot.

But for all my griping about the stupidity of American politicians and pundits, the ridiculous tone of our political campaigns, and all the other buffoonery that I’ve described in this space on Saturday mornings, this week’s award winner makes most of our leaders look like geniuses.

If you’ve seen a newspaper or newscast this week, then you know that the Asian nation of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma to everyone in the world except the United States government, which continues to insist on using the old name, was struck by a devastating cyclone on May 3.  Myanmar is desperately poor.  It’s also ruled by a brutally repressive and utterly paranoid military dictatorship.  Think North Korea without the quirky charm….  This week, as the United Nations, the United States, other Western powers, and countless NGOs tried to rush medical supplies, food, and other aid to the victims of the storm, the government of Myanmar refused to allow any outside assistance to reach the literally millions of people who have been displaced by this tragedy.  Tens of thousands are dead.  Villages have been flooded.  Drinking water is contaminated and food is scarce.  Soon the physical toll from the storm will be dwarfed by the humanitarian nightmare caused by disease and starvation.  And still the government is dragging its feet.  A few days ago it seized supplies intended for victims.

The Bush Administration’s response to Katrina was a travesty, caused by incompetence and negligence.  Some would claim (and I’d find it hard to argue the point) that had that storm flooded neighborhoods inhabited by wealthy whites rather than poor blacks, the Administration’s response would have been completely different.

But what the leaders of Myanmar have done to their people in the last week makes even that shameful episode in our nation’s history seem a minor offense.  I get absolutely no joy or satisfaction from this, but this week’s BOW Award goes to the government of Myanmar.  Take a BOW, assholes.  You’ve earned it.


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