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Waiting for help

January 22, 2010 2:41:08 PM PST
It is logic defying, finding a 22-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman in the rubble today in Haiti, 10 days after the killer earthquake. But it's the latest in a series of logic-defying events since the tragedy started a week ago last Tuesday. Alas, the tragedy seems only to have morphed into a more gruesome, more pathetic kind of tragedy.

The woman may not make it - her injuries are serious and being crushed for so long, without food or water, the odds seem against her.

But so many others who survived the quake seem not capable of surviving the quake's aftermath. And if that doesn't make you furious, then perhaps it's time to have your heart examined.

The world has seemed poised and ready to help Haiti - and yet medical supplies, food and water sit on the tarmac of the Port-au-Prince airport. And hundreds of thousands sit on the streets, hungry, wounded, dying.

The logistics of distributing this humanitarian aid are ridiculously complicated, but even under the worst-case scenario, it has taken far too long to get help to Haitians.

That may be about to change, although way too late for way too many people. Tens of thousands will have died, not from the earthquake, but from the wait for help.

There's now a move to get about 400,000 Haitians out of Port-au-Prince and into a kind of tent city. It's logical on many fronts: to prevent disease, and to allow the big machinery to come in and dispose of the rubble.

What that means is that officials have, finally, made the decision to end the rescue attempts and start a full-scale recovery.

We'll have the latest from Haiti, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're with some Haitian immigrants tonight, watching the all-network telethon to raise money for the victims. A host of celebrities will be performing, and they'll raise who-knows-how-much-money. Earlier this week, CNN's Larry King had a mini-telethon and in a two-hour period he raised about $9 million. With just about every network airing tonight's telethon, the figure will be much, much higher. And what a great opportunity to truly help Haiti - and do it by not repeating the mistakes of the past. The U.S. has poured billions into that poor country, only to have it peed away by a corrupt government that gives not a tinker's dang for its people. It is time to change that.

Talk about nation-building, now's the chance to finally do that in Haiti.

Also at 11, speaking of chances to do something, Pres. Obama seems to have had a fire lit underneath him, politically speaking. It was a great idea, reforming the nation's fairly ill health care system. But the proposals put forward provided no cures; the real reform was defeated early on.

I suspect if Mr. Obama had it to do over again, he would not have pushed health care reform ? certainly would not have left it to Congress to craft his proposal ? and he would have concentrated on the issue that got him elected. Issue number one. The economy.

Hard to get peeps in a lather over health care when they don't have jobs.

The President, perhaps trying a page out of the George W. Bush playbook, wanted to fix the banks and Wall Street, figuring some kind of trickle-down might happen.

It didn't.

Now the apparent death of health care reform, caused by the election of a Republican to fill Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, has finally shaken the White House. Finally.

With all due respect to some of the cable news channel bloviators, this President has hardly been socialistic in his policies. One could easily argue he's been the opposite: favoring the wealthy and the money makers over the people who are hurting and hungry and out of work.

What got this President elected was Americans belief that he was ushering in change; that "the rest of us" would somehow matter. The drumbeats from the far right notwithstanding, this President did not do that. Now he seems ready.

We'll see.

And also tonight at 11, Nina Pineda has the remarkable story of a man who was charged $800 for a couple of pizzas. What he discovered was that his favorite pizza joint had been doing this for a while. He and the others asked for a topping of 7 On Your Side to get results.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark in Indianapolis for the Jets playoff game, with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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