Jon Stewart Slams Rachel Maddow (!) for Politicizing US Response to Earthquake in Haiti

There's hope for Jon Stewart yet.

Here's Stewart from Thursday's "The Daily Show" lambasting what he perceived as ideological responses to the cataclysm in Haiti (click here for link to video at Air America site) --

STEWART: Clearly the story people care about right now is the earthquake that devastated Haiti. It is unspeakable as a tragedy. It's still unfolding. Aid groups are coordinating their efforts, donations are pouring in. At times like these I guess the only good thing that you can say is that whenever something this horrific happens, everyone comes together - everyone. (pause) Almost everyone.

(Cuts to video of Rush Limbaugh)

LIMBAUGH: This will play right into Obama's hands - humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, in both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made to order for him.

STEWART (addressing Limbaugh): You know, I think I know the cause of your heart trouble - you don't have one. I guess Rush Limbaugh is not the one you turn to in times of crisis. And why would you turn to Rush Limbaugh in a time of crisis. In times like these, you turn to men of God.

(Cuts to video of Pat Robertson on "The 700 Club" with co-host Kristi Watts)

ROBERTSON: You know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people may not want to talk about it. ... They got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. 

WATTS: Hmm.

ROBERTSON: It's a true story. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other ...

(Back to Stewart)

STEWART: Shut your pie-hole, old man. Out of all the things! Out of all the things that you could draw on from your religion to bring comfort to a devastated people and region. Look, look, look how big your book is! Look at (reads from Scripture), 'The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit', 'Fear though not; for I am with thee', 'Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee.'

But you decided to go with, tough titties, devil folk! Have you read this book?! 'From the depths of the earth you will again bring me up,' 'Thou the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.'

I mean, that almost sounds like it's about f***ing earthquakes!

You got all this and you went with an urban legend about a deal with the devil. Well, (mimicking Robertson) none of this would have happened if those people hadn't drank all those Pop Rocks and Coke. These are terrible events. Can't we put aside ideology for a second?

(Cuts to video of Rachel Maddow from her MSNBC show on Jan. 13)

MADDOW: Development and assistance is what USAID does. And when we're responding to a disaster like the one in Haiti right now, we use USAID and the military alongside one another. 

(Back to Stewart)

STEWART: See, thank you -- sober, factual report on America's aid work, working with the military together. No spin, thank you.

(Back to Maddow)

MADDOW: It's also important to understand what USAID is up to because the idea of more diplomacy and development, more USAID-style power, is a major part of the Obama administration's agenda. ... Putting someone as high-profile and powerful and capable as Hillary Clinton in charge of the State Department, all of that, central to what the Obama administration says it wants to do differently than what Bush and Cheney did.

(Back to chagrined-looking Stewart)

STEWART: Not the right time! Congratulations, MSNBC viewers, you're on the right side of this terrible, terrible tragedy.

Medic, Maddow's been hit!

Earlier in the same Maddow segment targeted by Stewart, Maddow exuded the distinct whiff of skepticism about Obama sending US Marines to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake (first part of embedded video) -- 

MADDOW: A massive rescue and relief effort by the United States government is underway in Haiti tonight. Ships, helicopters, transport planes and (pause, tilt of head for emphasis) 2,000 Marines reportedly on their way to Haiti now ...

Sigh -- there they go again. I half-expected Maddow to bring in Noam Chomsky to denounce yet another example of Yankee imperialism in the Caribbean.

More in this vein from Maddow in the same segment (second part of embedded video) --

MADDOW:  If you think about it, there are about maybe, arguably four major ways that America exerts power around the world. One, leading by example. Two, trade and economic leverage. Three, people with guns and bombs, a.ka. military force...

As if no moral distinctions exist among "people with guns and bombs" -- terrorist and Marine en route to Haiti alike. Except that the US-funded development work abroad that Maddow enthuses about with upcoming guest Steve Clemons (third part of video) would be far more difficult if not for "people with guns and bombs," a.k.a. American soldiers and Marines putting their lives on the line for it.

Here's Clemons describing the work of the US Agency for International Development and getting the chronology wrong of US responses to natural disasters in the last decade -- 

CLEMONS: USAID is probably the most vital, underresourced and often neglected institution in the international portfolio of the United States. When a big natural disaster or we have foreign policy objectives that need USAID, they're there. But during times of calm, they're neglected and severely underresourced as I think they were under the Bush administration. And of course they were a major target in the old days of Jesse Helms and Newt Gingrich and others who really didn't value this kind of international engagement.

When you think back to Katrina and how badly we responded to an own domestic crisis, you can see a real step up to both how we responded in the tsunami crisis in southeast Asia a few years ago and now what we're seeing unfold today in Haiti, which is incredibly impressive.

Problem is, Katrina struck in August 2005, eight months after the tsunami. An error akin to Rudy Giuliani placing 9/11 after Richard Reid's attempted shoebombing in December 2001, a gaffe for which Maddow excoriated Giuliani.

I'm willing to give Clemons the benefit of a doubt he made an honest mistake -- a willingness that Maddow wouldn't extend to Giuliani. Seeing how Giuliani advocates deploying "people with guns and bombs" when necessary.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts