Matthews on America’s ability to act quickly when helping countries in need

Updated
 

by Chris Matthews

The pictures are just plain terrible. Nothing good to see or to say. I’ve never seen the media show pictures of so many bodies but I guess that’s the story that needs covering.

But as we watch these pictures from Haiti, in the newspapers or right here as we are now on television, something is happening here in America.

One of the good things about this country is its ability to act quickly. We’re not the greatest when it comes to the long-term stuff, like keeping the debt under control, or fixing up our mass transit systems, but we’re very good, maybe the best at getting off the dime - at reacting to the immediate crisis.

That’s not always true  - example - Katrina - but its historically true. Look at us after Pearl Harbor, or the Manhattan project or what happened after the Soviets beat us with Sputnik and how we beat them to the Moon.

We’re also a generous country. Look at the Marshall Plan. Look at what President George W. Bush did to fight HIV in East Africa.

Oh, yeah, we’re good - at least for much of our history at getting together in groups - not government - voluntary organizations to get things done. Like the people doing the good work already in Haiti.

So as we look at the pictures, wondering how far the media will go in showing them, how much we can take in watching them, we also have to cover the story of what we Americans are doing these past few days in meeting what’s happening in Haiti.

We’ve moved fast. We’ve been generous and we’re once again showing our power to work together, in non-government organizations, from the Red Cross to Catholic Relief Services, to meet an urgent need.

Maybe some people in the world will notice how we’re doing on this, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we notice it and learn from it. This is a great and good country.

It’s got some weaknesses again, like long-term thinking about spending, taxes and fiscal good sense, but we’re also really something else when it comes to acting quick, acting charitably and acting as individuals and together, voluntarily, to help a neighbor, a very poor one, that needs help.

Matthews on America's ability to act quickly when helping countries in need

Updated