Wednesday, June 23, 2004
President Bush and AIDS in Africa: President Bush is proposing to spend billions of dollars to help fight the spread of AIDS in Africa (and Vietnam), using a program that has been proven to work, and he still gets grief from the activist community.
Nonetheless, some activist groups have accused the Bush administration of doing too little. The fight against AIDS needs at least $30 billion over five years, they say, and the money could be spent more quickly. They also accuse the administration of wasting taxpayer dollars on expensive brand-name drugs from big pharmaceutical companies with powerful lobbies.
Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, issued a statement on Wednesday saying: "It is long past time for empty rhetoric on this issue. It is time for real resources and a real commitment that is based on science - not politics - to fight this epidemic."
And the left's darling, former President Bill Clinton, spent how much on combating AIDS in Africa? He spent how much of his political capital and time at the bully pulpit trying to save lives?
If you answered "practically none," you'd be right.
When a Republican does something like this, it's never enough. And when a Democrat does nothing, there's relative silence from the left -- after all, a Democrat's politics are in the right place.
Sen. John Kerry's criticism is also odd (I'm feeling generous today, it's really more along the lines of "stupid") -- because the program that Bush is supporting is based on solid, real-world, scientific results. The ABC program -- Abstinence, Be faithful, use a Condom -- in that order, has had a substantial effect on reducing the rate of AIDS infection in Uganda. While the "C" that the New York Times and AIDS activists love has had nearly zero effect when it is touted as the primary method for preventing AIDS transmission.
You'll also notice that despite the fact that it is referred to and promoted as the ABC program, when the Times talks about it, it's the CAB program.
But Mark Isaac, policy director for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, said later in an interview that backing a combination of condoms, abstinence and fidelity was "a science-based approach, and for that reason is to be applauded."
President Bush is doing a good and compassionate thing -- but don't expect him to get any credit for it.