Paul  Kengor

Last week I wrote about former President George W. Bush’s unprecedented work on behalf of the African AIDS epidemic. That $15 billion package, first proposed in January 2003, was entirely Bush’s doing, and has been ignored by the mainstream media and liberals who should hail the initiative. Similarly, it has been dismissed by many conservatives who did not like the massive spending at a time of record deficits.

I focused on the latest ignored news on the Bush initiative: the remarkable conclusion that it has saved over one million African lives. According to an April 2009 study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Bush plan is “changing the course of the AIDS epidemic.”

Although the response to the article was overwhelmingly positive, there were some negatives. Here, I’d like to consider those responses, positive and negative; they are instructive:

First, the response from the left remains sadly predictable. There continues to be a refusal to give George W. Bush due credit for this extraordinary act. This was evident in a brief reply by an editor at an Iowa newspaper, who responded to my 1,159-word article with 11 words: “And he [Bush] killed thousands of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Granted, within that statement was a tiny inadvertent acknowledgment that Bush had saved African lives. That’s an improvement from past emails I’ve received from liberals who refused to concede the program existed. (In fact, the dominant response from liberal newspaper editors was to ignore the article—to not print it.)

Second, I got predictable criticisms from a few conservatives, particularly those who lean libertarian in their economics. One was mean, and I won’t bother recounting what he wrote. Another, however, offered a good point worth noting: “Actually, the credit should go to the American taxpayer,” he wrote, “whose effort and ingenuity afforded Bush and Congress the $15 billion they used for AIDS programs in Africa. Your [article] title should be ‘American Taxpayers Saved a Million African Lives.’”

Point taken. Of course, taxpayers did not come up with the idea and push it and adopt it and make it a reality. That was entirely George W. Bush. In fact, if Bush’s proposal had been placed on referendum, I suspect taxpayers might have handily rejected it. Certainly no group of taxpayers has generously stepped forward with a cool $15 billion for African AIDS relief.