An article at Contentions by Peter Wehner, David Denby’s sneering ignorance, reminded me of one of the best profiles I’d ever read of President George W Bush.

Late in his second term in office, the previous President went on a trip with Bob Geldof, lead singer of the Boomtown Rats and global activist. The article, Diary from the Road shows Geldof’s mixed emotions about the President: Geldof shows both disrespect and skepticism about Bush, but you still get the impression that he admires him. The attitudes are in display in the first three paragraphs:

I gave the President my book. He raised an eyebrow. “Who wrote this for ya, Geldof?” he said without looking up from the cover. Very dry. “Who will you get to read it for you, Mr. President?” I replied. No response.

The Most Powerful Man in the World studied the front cover. Geldof in Africa — ” ‘The international best seller.’ You write that bit yourself?”

“That’s right. It’s called marketing. Something you obviously have no clue about or else I wouldn’t have to be here telling people your Africa story.”

That’s the way it is with Republicans, either they market themselves or no one knows about their good qualities. The focus of the article is the aid Bush initiated for Africa and specifically PEPFAR – President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

The Washington Post is a big fan of PEPFAR and recently praised the program in an editorial, PEPFAR’s glowing report card, 10 years later:

IN THE HISTORY of global public health, there has been nothing quite like it. Since 2003, Congress has appropriated more than $38 billion for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR — the largest global health initiative ever undertaken focused on a single disease. Congress reauthorized the program for five years in 2008 and asked for a report card. Now, after four years of work, some 400 interviews and visits to 13 nations, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has provided a 678-page examination of this incredibly ambitious program.

The verdict: PEPFAR has been “globally transformative,” a “lifeline” and credited around the world for “restoring hope” in the long, difficult struggle against HIV/AIDS, which has taken nearly 30 million lives over three decades. Furthermore, the program “has saved and improved the lives of millions.” It set big goals “and has met or surpassed many of them.” One small statistic speaks volumes: As of September, the U.S. government has supported antiretroviral treatment for more than 5 million men, women and children. This is a vast increase from a decade earlier.

Check out the whole editorial. The editors of the Washington Post are huge fans of the program.

But there’s one thing missing from the editorial – “George W. Bush.” The first “P” in the program’s name, stands for “President’s” and the editors of the Washington Post don’t waste any words acknowledging the President who originated it. The omission is classless. Geldof was right. Republicans need to market themselves. No one else will.

For a contrast see An overlooked legacy – humanitarian by Christian Caryl.


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