"We've got to ask, why is this man (Osama bin Laden) so popular around the world?," said Murray, who faces re-election in 2004. "Why are people so supportive of him in many countries … that are riddled with poverty?
"He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that.
"How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"
Yeah, it's not as if she's ever voted on a foreign aid bill or anything. Actually, many of the roads in Afghanistan were built by Americans. I have an uncle who did that, and also trained Afghans in construction and equipment maintenance, back during the 1970s. Didn't seem to make much of a difference. But I guess I shouldn't expect Murray to know about that stuff -- she's only a Senator, after all.
UPDATE: Reader Brandon Bigelow writes:
Does Patty Murray read the federal budgets she's been voting on? The United States may not contribute a large amount of money to foreign aid as a percentage of GDP, but the amounts are significant in real dollars. Did she just miss the $2.4 billion we spent in the Middle East and North Africa in FY00, the $1.8 billion in FY01, or the estimated $1.7 billion in FY02? I am guessing Osama bin Laden, with all the hospital, orphanages, schoolhouses and shelters he built didn't come close. See www.usaid.gov/country/ane/mena_tables.html for summaries of expenditures.
How much is enough for Patty Murray and her fellow travelers? Will people stop flying jets into the side of our buildings if only we give them $5 billion in foreign aid annually? Or could the conflict between the West and the Middle East be about a little bit more than total cash expenditures?
I honestly think that for some people -- and Murray is probably one -- it's hard to imagine that anything matters more than federal expenditures.