Compassionate conservation

rescued ducks swimming

No duck left behind

All together now: Awwwww! After a bird-brained mallard hen made a nest in front of the Treasury building, the government spared no efforts — and presumably no expense — to protect her and her eggs from the consequences of her bad judgment. They erected barricades to shield her from passersby and from protesters. And after the eggs hatched yesterday, the Agriculture Department and other government departments organized a four-vehicle motorcade to transport the duck family to Rock Creek Park in the capital.

It was enough to warm to cockles of the coldest, hardest heart. The administration of President George W Bush — beset as it is with a weakening economy, rising gasoline prices, debilitating national debt, a Social Security program teetering on the brink of bankruptcy (or so they would like us to believe, even though it's not true), an escalating insurgency in Iraq with no end in sight, the Senate about to explode in a battle of judges, a nominee for the top US diplomatic post at the United Nations in serious trouble because the guy is a pigheaded ideological bully, a declining dollar, a rogue nation (Korea) merrily harvesting plutonium to make more nuclear bombs, the president's approval rating at an all-time low, I could go on — took the plight of a single wild duck with maladaptive nesting instincts under its wing, as it were, and carried out a rescue operation.

ducks walking
No duck left behind?

Now I'm not saying the government shouldn't have showed such compassion, nor that the government shouldn't have rescued the duck. I just wish the Bush administration would show as much compassion for the unfortunate of our society: the ones without homes, the hungry, the poor, the ones without any medical insurance, the ones living, barely, from minimum-wage paycheck to minimum-wage paycheck.

I'm always amazed when Americans get all worked up over a single unfortunate creature but fail to get concerned — "concerned" would be good, "mad as hell" would be even better — about the larger environmental issues that spell the doom of a multitude of creatures: global warming, destruction of wetlands, toxic waste, pollution, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.