The extraordinary suffering of the people in Haiti dwarfs any political story, even the single most significant non-presidential election of my lifetime and the most surprising one period, which is how I describe Scott Brown's triumph in Massachusetts on Tuesday.
As different as they are, however, they are connected at a very basic level.
The surge of American troops, supplies and relief heading towards and now arriving in Haiti have an origin in the American character and a source in the American economy. The tens of millions of dollars in aid are flowing out of American surplus, the sort of economic surplus that hundreds of years of relatively unfettered capitalism have produced. The ships carry comfort and saving medicines are funded by a defense budget that depends upon an American economy that remains the world's marvel. The doctors, nurses, medics rushing to the country have been trained in an American health care system that is the planet's standard for excellence.
And all of it is flowing out of a generous national spirit that reflects the country's deeply compassionate religious roots, which while primarily Christian are also fed by other religious traditions that emphasize selfless service in the same manner that the teachings of Christ do.
Only America is responding on the scale that it is because only America can and does. Other country's make commitments and send supplies and they are welcome.
But the only nation in the world ready, willing and able to rescue as best it can an entire country is America.
From the U.S.S. Carl Vinson to Team Rubicon --read about this amazing group of Americans here and at Blackfive.net-- an extraordinary array of Americans from a spectrum of agencies and organizations have turned their wills to saving Haitian lives. This is a profoundly good thing, and one in which every American can take considerable, justified pride. Ours is a great and good nation.
The vast majority of us --Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike-- want to keep it that way. We have different views on how to accomplish that end, but the result in Massachusetts seems a clear message to D.C. that those voters, like the ones before them in Virginia and New jersey, believe that the new Democratic president and the new Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate are headed in a very wrong direction when it comes to preserving the America that allows for such outpourings of generosity and such effective and varied channels of response.