City Paper is not for tourists
What are kids in America to do with their $1 bills, now that the children of Afghanistan don’t need ’em?
While recently mulling how I never do anything nice for anybody, I thought back to that speech President Bush made a few weeks after 9/11, when he asked all our nation’s children to send a dollar to the White House and assured the little boys and girls that he’d get their George Washingtons to the youngsters of Afghanistan.
When he made the speech, Bush was four days into bombing Afghanistan up to the stone age. Bush said that his program, which over the years the White House alternately called the Afghan Children’s Fund and the Fund for the Children of Afghanistan, was “modeled on the original 1938 March of Dimes campaign” concocted by FDR.
Suddenly, even folks outside of strip joints were talking about $1 bills. To keep attention on his feel-good idea, Bush then went around to schools to talk about all the “bake sales” and “lemonade stands” that have popped up around the U.S. to help with the effort.
But while nobody was looking, the Fund died a death quieter than Abe Vigoda’s. (What? Abe Vigoda’s still alive? Oh…Well, exactly!)
I went looking for an update on the campaign and found this brief announcement buried on the White House Website:
“As of April 1, 2005 the Afghan Children’s Fund is no longer accepting contributions. President Bush thanks those among America’s youth who participated for their support.”
Just like that? Gone? Am I the only one surprised by this news? Far as I can tell, the fund’s termination didn’t get a single mention in the Washington Post. (Perhaps, after all hoopla the campaign got at its birth, reporters figured this was an April Fools announcement.) I couldn’t find any explanation from the White House about why the fund was terminated. I guess all the kids in Afghanistan are doing peachy. Or maybe our government figured they’d just spend the dollar bills on heroin.
As for Bush’s comparison of his brainchild to Roosevelt’s: The March of Dimes helped get rid of Polio in this country and the organization still thrives; before being put to sleep, the Afghan Children’s Fund got some fabulous PR for the White House and a few crayons shipped into the desert.
Call it a draw.