The Decider as The Healer

THE DECIDER AS THE HEALER…. CNN’s John King told viewers last night, after Bush’s farewell address, that the president “mentioned the program to fight AIDS in Africa.” King added, “Any liberal will tell you it has been a dramatic success.”

Likewise, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) wrote an opinion piece for CNN, arguing that Bush’s legacy includes having “saved 10 million lives” through his efforts to combat AIDS. “The bottom line is: George Bush is a healer,” Frist said.

Given this, it’s worth setting the record straight.

[T]he President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) … required that starting in fiscal year 2006, 33 percent of funds for AIDS prevention be spent on abstinence-until-marriage education — a provision the Bush administration reportedly lobbied Congress to add.

As Media Matters for America has documented, according to many of the government officials responsible for managing PEPFAR abroad, as well as the Institute of Medicine, the Government Accountability Office, and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), the abstinence-until-marriage education requirement hindered PEPFAR’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of AIDS. Congress removed the requirement when it reauthorized PEPFAR in 2008.

In a November 2006 report titled “Bush’s AIDS Initiative: Too Little Choice, Too Much Ideology,” the CPI stated that PEPFAR “has enabled his administration to funnel tens of millions of dollars to Christian faith-based organizations that support his ideology and form his political base.” The report quoted Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, asserting that PEPFAR “is failing to stop the global spread of AIDS and failing to help lead the world to stop this deadly disease. … We have a flawed framework with flawed policies that have kept us from being where we should be by now.”

The Bush Legacy Project probably needs to flesh out those talking points a little more.