Usually when a tragedy strikes like a cyclone or a hurricane, one would think that Laura Bush would flash the face of being compassionate to all the suffering people instead of an attack dog politician. Wouldn't there have been a better time to criticize the government?
When a country run by a despotic and isolationist regime is laid low by a massive natural disaster, the diplomatic thing to do is to respond with a show of compassion. Not kick 'em when they're down.
More than 22,000 people have died in the staggering devastation caused by this weekend's cyclone in Burma. But when First Lady Laura Bush made her first-ever visit to the White House briefing room yesterday, to talk about what's going on in that country, it was not to deliver a message of goodwill.
Rather than announce the launch of a massive relief effort that could take advantage of a rare diplomatic opening, the first lady instead tossed insults at Burma's leaders, blamed them for the high death toll, and lashed out at their decision to move forward with a constitutional referendum scheduled for this Saturday.
The traditionally issue-averse first lady's concerns about the Burmese junta and its abuses of human rights date back several years, and she's been particularly outspoken since last fall.
But why respond to a catastrophe with such hostility? The awkward timing, as it turns out, may have had something to do with an event entirely unrelated to the cyclone.
"I'm going to leave tomorrow for Crawford, for Jenna's wedding, and I wanted to be able to make a statement about Burma before I left," the first lady told reporters.