Three presidents stood side by side yesterday at a press conference in the Rose Garden of the Oval Office. President Obama has asked the two presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to work together in ‘private-sector fund-raising efforts’ to bring about relief in Haiti and to restore Haiti to a healthy nation.
The three presidents looked good together and seemed eminently sincere in their united efforts to help these troubled people, who suffered a 7.0 magnitude earthquake last week. President Obama said about the two former presidents: “They each asked the same simple question: ‘How can I help?'”
The resolve of these three American leaders was demonstrable in their facial expressions and in their selective choice of words. With the two ex-presidents by his side, Obama said from the Rose Garden podium:
“By coming together in this way, these two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and to the people of the world, in these difficult hours, America stands united. We stand united with the people of Haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience, and will help them to recover and to rebuild.”
A jointly written op-ed article, A Helping Hand for Haiti, appears in the New York Times today. Clinton and Bush are calling on the American people to give money for the relief effort in Haiti. They have created a web site that will be used to collect donations and to coordinate efforts that can result in immediate relief.
The web site is: http://www.clintonbushhaitifund.org.
The article, A Helping Hand for Haiti, emphasizes that advancements in technology are easing the way for real relief. “Organizations like the Red Cross have been stunned at the amount of money pouring in through an innovative fund-raising effort that allows cell phone users to text a $10 donation that will be added to their cell phone bills.”
The article goes on to characterize both short-term measures needed, as well as long-term issues that must be addressed. Immediate concerns are fundamentals such as getting water, food, shelter and first aid supplies to these suffering people. Once these basic goals have been met, the larger issues can be addressed. These are: clearing the rubble of Port-au-Prince, rebuilding, creating jobs, improving education and expanding trade.
The op-ed piece is optimistic about the prospects of reversing Haiti’s misfortune from this earthquake. This leap of faith, this surge of optimism, is in startling contrast to a nation that has endured one woe after another, going all the way back to the time when Columbus first landed here in December of 1492. And it should not be forgotten that the ‘New World’ got its start right on this little tropical island.
It was surprising to see the three presidents side by side, working in unity for a significant cause, a cause to rebuild a nation of the Americas, which has never had a real chance, from the ground up. I must say, as of yesterday, I was skeptical and lacking in hope that Haiti could ever rise out of these ashes of despair. My pessimism reversed when I witnessed the resolve of our former leaders. And humor helped my attitude too, for when Clinton took the podium he said jestingly: “I’ve already figured out how I’m going to get him to do some things he hasn’t signed on for.”
A rejuvenation of Haiti has a good chance of working, with this joint-effort of these two ex-presidents, Clinton and Bush. A statement from their new web page promises that needed donations: “channel the collective good will around the globe to help the people of Haiti rebuild their cities, their neighborhoods, and their families.”
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund: