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January 23, 2009
George Bush, the healer
The libs are in a festive mood while rhetorically kicking president Bush on his way out the door. Nancy Pelosi said she feels as if a 10-ton anvil has been lifted from her shoulders. I know the excitement of seeing America elect our first socialist leaning president is almost more than they can bear. And I don't mean to rain on their parade but it turns out that President Bush has done some things even liberals might grudgingly admit are worthwhile. He has literally saved 10 million lives during his presidency.
Instead of signing Kyoto and wasting valuable resources fighting a non-existent problem. Bush spent billions fighting aids and malaria in Africa. In the long run the wisdom of that choice will become self evident. Bill Frist wrote about this for CNN, the article is prominently labeled as commentary lest anyone think CNN has gone soft on Bush. Here is a sample:
A legacy of President George W. Bush will be that he saved 10 million lives around the world.From this conservative's point of view Bush was far from perfect and no one wants to see our tax money wasted, but I think 10 million lives saved is well worth the effort. As more stories like this come out and Bush Derangement Syndrome starts to subside in the coming months and years the true Bush legacy will eventually shine through.
His critics ignore it, but name another president about whom one can say that with such certainty. It is what historians will say a decade from now looking back. Not bad for a president who leaves office with the lowest approval rating in recent memory.
The bottom line is: George Bush is a healer.
First, a surprise proclamation came on January 29, 2003.
I was in the first row in the House chamber when three quarters through his State of the Union address, the president boldly said: "I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years ... to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean" and "lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature."
And lead the world we did. No president in history had made such a commitment against a single disease. Those words and the action that followed meant that instead of another 30 million people dying from HIV infections, maybe just another 20 million will. [....]
In my annual medical mission trips to Africa during the Bush administration, I saw the cost of treatment for HIV with life-saving antiretrovirals (ARVs) drop from $4,000 a year to $125. The number of Africans on ARVs jumped from 50,000 to 2.1 million. [....]
And it was more than HIV. Six months ago, Tom Daschle, Mike Huckabee, John Podesta, Cindy McCain and I (yes, we five of different persuasions do work together!) went to Rwanda on a fact-finding trip.
Our visits with villagers all over the country opened our eyes to how Bush's five-year, $1.2 billion effort to combat malaria has provided 4 million insecticide-treated bed nets and 7 million life-saving drug therapies to vulnerable people. Yes, George Bush the healer.
Future historians will also note what today's pundits ignore: total US government development aid to Africa quadrupled from $1.3 billion in 2001 to more than $5 billion in 2008. What's more, the Bush administration doubled foreign aid worldwide over the past eight years. You have to go back to the Truman years to match that.
I've had the privilege of knowing George W. Bush personally and as president. I have seen his passions. Naturally, he will be judged in the short term for his role in waging the war on terror, keeping America safe since 9/11 and acting on his belief in promoting liberty aboard.
Over time, however, it is the foundations he laid for healing. for the most part ignored by mainstream media, that I am confident will be his enduring legacy.