February 22, 2008
"Thank you, George W Bush"
If you only paid attention to the usual news sources you'd never guess that President Bush has done more for Africa than any other US president, this even according to Irish rock star Bob Geldorf, who is also an activist for helping the beleaguered continent.
Mr. Geldof praised Mr. Bush for his work in delivering billions to fight disease and poverty in Africa, and blasted the U.S. press for ignoring the achievement.
Mr. Bush, said Mr. Geldof, "has done more than any other president so far."
"This is the triumph of American policy really," he said. "It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion."
"What's in it for [Mr. Bush]? Absolutely nothing," Mr. Geldof said.
It's not just disease and poverty that makes at least some Africans happy with the President, but his democracy initiative draws cheers too. He stopped in Liberia as part of his Africa tour, and got rave reviews
America's popularity verges on exuberance in this nation founded in 1847 by freed U.S. slaves. "If you were to take a survey, you would find that there is not one Liberian that doesn't love George Bush," said Miss Endee, whose songs calling for peace were among the most heavily played during Liberia's civil war.
The Bush administration has made Africa the centerpiece of its aid strategy. Twelve of the 15 countries receiving funding from the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief are in Africa. Nine African countries are among the 16 drawing grants from Mr. Bush's Millennium Challenge Corp., which provides support to nations that have reached benchmarks from stemming corruption to investing in immunizations.
Since Mr. Bush took office, U.S. development aid to Africa has tripled, funding for HIV programs has vaulted from less than $1 billion to more than $6 billion per year and garment exports from Africa to the United States, fueled by special trade deals, increased sevenfold, according to U.S. statistics.
Development aid has tripled? AIDS spending sextupled? Don't expect much credit for it, Mr President.
It wasn't just in Liberia that they appreciated his efforts, though. The Washington Post has recognized what's going on:
They proclaimed George W. Bush Day in Benin, thronged streets by the tens of thousands in Tanzania and christened the George Bush Motorway in Ghana. As he wrapped up his Africa trip in Liberia on Thursday, they sang about him on the radio, crooning his name and warbling, "Thank you for the peace process."
For a president in his final year in office and saddled with low poll numbers, heading overseas, especially to a generally friendly part of the world, offers affirmation not always available at home. It has been years since President Bush drew crowds in the United States comparable to those he saw in Dar es Salaam, and it's hard to find U.S. highways named after him outside Crawford, Tex. Dancing women at home rarely wear his face on their skirts or blouses.
I suppose I shouldn't crow over all this, but it's kind of hard not to. We on the right do get tired of being portrayed as ogres who don't care about everyone else in the world, and if the right thinks it has a monopoly on patriotism, too the left thinks it has a monopoly on compassion.
Of course, no matter what you do you can't make everyone happy. No doubt there are plenty of folks who want more-more-more aid, who claim that we exaggerate what we send there, that it contains unacceptable conditions, or that it's all a plot to establish military bases so as to expand the US "empire". The "empire" complaint is based on the recently established AFRICOM. President Bush swatted that down when he said that we have no plans for new bases on that continent.
One can debate what we should do for Africa, and whether our aid programs are properly structured. But you can't say that President Bush hasn't tried hard to improve life in Africa, and from what I can tell he's done more than any of his predecessors.
Posted by Tom at February 22, 2008 8:23 AM
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Well Thank you, Mr. Geldof,
When do you think we will see
this on the N.Y.Times Front Page?
Posted by: Ralph E. at February 23, 2008 1:11 AM
Thank you President Bush? Tom, we cannot even aid the poor in our own nation - we have countless indigent and poor people suffering. If you go up into the Blue Ridge Mountains bordering West Virginia and Tennessee you would find children sleeping in shacks made of cardboard boxes and eating out of tin cans - similar to what you would find in the poor cities in many African cities. I witnessed both.
Charity begins at home, something I never forgot that my grandmother taught me as a child.
When a president soley has focused on helping everyone else, but his own he is no longer worthy of the title president - let alone a thank you.
What has he done for our poor? How many people die daily or do not get adequate care due to money and lack of insurance or good insurance.
I am tired of everyone glorifying Bush - he put Reagan and his father to shame. It is too bad Jebb had not run in 2000 - we might have been much better off.
I am glad we will be rid of him this November and I am going to vote for McCain because he will support and continue to protect us and fight the war on terror. But I am hoping that unlike Bush he will do more to help the people that put him in office.
Posted by: Layla at February 28, 2008 4:58 PM