Saturday, April 28, 2007

An Excellent Judge of Character

Remember Disney's Aladdin? A street beggar finds a magic lamp, that has the genie that grants him wishes that will help him win the girl (and eventually the kingdom, but mostly the girl). Well, when Aladdin (aka Prince Ali) bursts into the Sultan's palace, the Sultan giddily reassures his worried Dark Prince of a minister, Jaffar, that he is 'an excellent judge of character'.

I thought of that line as I was reading about Randall Tobias, the Bush Administration's deputy for HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa. Apparently Mr. Tobias, who promotes the ABC approach to HIV/AIDS prevention for others had to resign when ABC News found he had procured the services of an escort agency. Mr. Tobias told ABC News that 'he contacted the escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage" and that there had been "no sex" involved' (are there no spas in the District?). Of course, all of this comes to light a few days after President Bush expressed confidence in Mr. Tobias and praised his efforts. Mr. Tobias, whose character the President admires, controlled the distribution of funds for prevention of a disease in Africa, preaching abstinence and the Administration's version of morality, while he himself engaged in assorted activities with prostitutes. I'm not sure how he intended to promote a lifestyle he couldn't adhere to himself to people half way across the world; I wouldn't want to call him a hypocrite. I do think however, there's something unacceptable about wagging your finger at people from a society with crippling disadvantages and possibly withholding life saving funds from them, if they don't listen to your stated philosophy of how they should live, regardless of how you are living yourself.

I know the President thinks he's an excellent judge of character. He repeated claims that he has talked to someone/looked into their eyes and found them to be worthy of his trust/goodwill/praise. In case you're a little rusty, allow me to remind you of his judgment of some of the folks he deals with in no particular order:

  • Dick Cheney (oh my God, the Dark Prince!), who accidentally shot his friend in the face and was somehow the victim when all was said and done
  • Vladamir Putin, whose soul the President looked into and found 'trustworthy'
  • Paul Bremer, who among other things, managed to lose $9B which is logistically hard to misplace and was honored for his accomplishments
  • Donald Rumsfeld (the other Dark Prince) who claimed 'stuff happens' when questioned about the death and destruction in Iraq
  • Michael 'Heck of a Job' Brown who was looking for a pressed shirt to wear for his interview while New Orleans was drowning
  • Michael Chertoff, who had to be told thousands were stranded in the Superdome and Convention Center by a NPR reporter during a live broadcast, angrily denied it, and later admitted he wasn't aware of events on the ground in a city that everyone in America was watching drown on television
  • Paul Wolfowitz , who launched a campaign of anti-corruption in Third World countries (denying World Bank assistance unless they addressed corruption issues) while he secured a tax free salary from various government funded sources for his special 'lady friend'...

I could go on, but I'll get back to Mr. Tobias and the President's excellent judgment. I don't care what a middle aged and balding man did with prostitutes, and pray to God I don't have to hear the details everywhere I go. I do care who fills this position next, someone who realizes that abstinence is not a realistic approach to disease prevention, not because it's a bad idea per se, but because it has been proven repeated to not work. In short, I hope who ever takes over for Mr. Tobias keeps his personal life personal , and comes up with a better solution than his predecessor.

Oh, and I hope Mr. Bush stops praising people, it is a sure sign they're really screwing up on the job.


paulg said...

Wolfy's gf was Iranian too. You can never trust THOSE people.

girl with curious hair said...

She was not Iranian, she is Libyian. Iranians have better taste in men.