24 jul. 2008

How Republicans Think: Wildebeest in Every Pot


Sometimes even the most altruistic notions come to naught. Take California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter's nifty idea to help the neediest of the needy: the 230,000 refugees in Chad who have fled the slaughter in Darfur and are desperately in need of food.

Hunter's staff contacted the embassy in N'Djamena, Chad, last week to see whether Hunter could distribute food at a camp. Hunter also wanted to put together an outing to hunt wildebeest and distribute the meat to refugees.

The embassy was decidedly lukewarm. It worried about logistics and the need to divert scarce staff to coordinate Hunter's schedule. There also were concerns about coordinating with the World Food Program's distribution schedule. The embassy sought advice from Foggy Bottom as to what to tell Hunter, a former presidential candidate, who will Congress at the end of this term.

Here's State's response last week: "Talking Points Regarding CODEL Hunter":

· The embassy "welcomes Congressman Hunter's interest in food assistance to Darfur refugees in Chad. Given the significant" U.S. aid in the world program, the embassy "would encourage the congressman to time his visit to coincide with an already scheduled food distribution."
· The embassy will "make the necessary arrangements for" Hunter to watch a food distribution in a camp.

· "Regarding the Congressman's desire to hunt wildebeest and distribute the cured meat to refugees, wildebeest are not present in Chad." (We're told some have been there, mostly in a no-hunting wildlife refuge.)

And, in case Hunter was looking for other game:

· "The Government of Chad does not permit the hunting of large mammals."

Actually, there's not a whole lot of wild game roaming these days near the refugee camps in Chad. It's a desert, and it has been at war for the last few decades. (The wildebeest's annual migration between Kenya and Tanzania is under serious threat from poachers, CNN reported last week.)

Hunter's office called State on Thursday and said he had decided not to go and that he was looking instead at commercial hunting expeditions in Kenya, Tanzania and Southern Africa.

But Hunter's office said yesterday that his trip -- the idea was two separate trips, we were told -- was not intended to be an official CODEL. Hunter, his office said, had always intended them to be private trips. "At this point, neither trip has been settled," a spokesman said.
Well, happy hunting.
Is wildebeest best cooked medium-rare?