Haiti needs a savior, and international "master of disaster" Bill Clinton might just be the man for the job. Beyond his larger-than-life mystique — reinforced by his intervention in the North Korea hostage standoff — he's also the United Nations' special envoy to Haiti. President Obama has reached out to both Clinton and George W. Bush to throw their weight behind the crisis efforts, but, in the eyes of many commentators, former President Clinton has become the emotional center of the initiative. Will the famed fundraiser deliver — or is the liberal media over-sentimentalizing his potential contribution? (Watch Bill Clinton outline ways to help in Haiti)
Clinton is Haiti's best hope: Bill Clinton is "one of the best things that Haiti has going for it right now," says Mark Leon Goldberg in U.N. Dispatch. Say what you will, "the man is a very skilled fundraiser" — he raised more than $2.6 million in 24 hours for Haiti through his Clinton Foundation, and he's being instrumental in mobilizing the U.N. and donor nations to act quickly and generously.
"Bill Clinton and Haiti"
Maybe Clinton will get it right this time: Clinton's crusade to help Haiti has "the feel of penance," say Bryan Curtis and Benjamin Sarlin in The Daily Beast. Don't forget that Haiti was one his presidency's "biggest foreign-policy headaches"; ignoring protests, he almost went to war in 1994 to restore Haiti's corrupt, autocratic ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power — a wholly misguided instinct: After Aristide was re-elected in 2000, the man Clinton had backed "only extended Haiti’s cycle of corruption and poverty."
"The Haitian earthquake has put Bill Clinton squarely back on the world stage"
Haiti may resuscitate Clinton, too: Just a few days ago, blogs were circulating new evidence of Bill Clinton's rumored extramarital dalliances," says Michael Scherer in Time. "He was a piece of history, on the sidelines, watching his legacy erode." Then Haiti collapses and "Bubba is back, in all of his best ways, as a communicator, humanitarian, leader of the world… explaining, rallying, consoling…doing what he does best, perhaps better than anyone else" on earth.
"With response to Haiti, Bill Clinton returns to spotlight"
If you think Bill Clinton's priorities are with Haiti, think again: Instead of going to Haiti in person to help with the "relief efforts," says Byron York in the Washington Examiner, Clinton chose to head to Massachusetts to "make not one, but two appearances" on behalf of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley," whose success in next Tuesday's election is crucial to stop Republicans from blocking the health care bill in the Senate. Obviously, Clinton cares more about saving the Democratic health care reform plan than he does about "sav[ing] the world."
"Despite earthquake, UN Haiti envoy Bill Clinton to stump in Massachusetts"
SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF THE HAITI CRISIS:
• Haiti disaster: The essential facts
• Pat Robertson's "hateful" Haiti comments
• Earthquake: Saving Haiti
• The Haiti cruise ship scandal
• Related political cartoons