While Obama has been in Africa, so have the Bushes. Since President's get Secret Service protection, that's probably costing us some $ ... but the Bushes are there to help re-hab a clinic in Tanzania. In T-shirts and jeans they are helping US student volunteers in the work being done on the clinic. It's part of their foundation's efforts to battle cervical and ovarian cancer in Tanzania.
For all the mistakes we can chalk up to GW, he is probably generating more good will in Africa on his working vacation than the Obamas are. He and Lara seem almost more comfortable with the "real" people than they were in the political melee. Although Lara seems to have the ability to be gracious in any environment. GW deserves some credit for the good judgment to pick Lara as his wife :-)
I was all in favor of the Obama family taking a 100 million dollar trip to Africa...until I heard they were coming back.
Uncle Bill you owe me a new keyboard;-):D:)
Yes I'm sure Mrs Obama spread tons of goodwill when she described living in the White House as being in a really nice prison--to an audience in Tanzania where most of the people live in hovels made of dung. Heard that on the radio today and thought surely it must be a joke making fun of them but, she really did say it. I am speechless... Here's what I found when I googled it: 9 Most Arrogant Quotes of the Obamas.
The work of the Bushes for AIDS in Africa has made them a heroes there, regardless of what we think of GW's political career here. Their most recent trip was not one of luxury.
Even those who intensely disliked GW and his policies have praised his legacy in Africa.
The debate over a president’s legacy lasts many years longer than his term of office. At home, there’s still no consensus about the 2001-09 record of George W. Bush, with its wars and economic turmoil.
In Africa, he’s a hero.
“No American president has done more for Africa,” said Festus Mogae, who served as president of Botswana from 1998 to 2008. “It’s not only me saying that. All of my colleagues agree.”
AIDS was an inferno burning through sub-Saharan Africa. The American people, led by Bush, checked that fire and saved millions of lives.
From the NY timesQuote:
Before PEPFAR, an estimated 100,000 people were on anti-retroviral drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. By the time Bush left office in 2008 that number had increased to about 2 million.
In 2005 Bush started a $1.2 billion initiative to fight malaria. He defended the request for funding in 2007, saying, “There’s no reason for little babies to be dying of mosquito bites around the world.”
At Thursday’s ceremony, President Clinton said in his travels throughout Africa he had “personally seen the faces of some of the millions of people who are alive today” because of Bush’s policies.
Even some of Bush’s most ardent critics have admitted that his foreign policy legacy on Africa continues to have a lasting effect.
U2 front-man and activist Bono, who criticized Bush on the Iraq War, nonetheless expressed his admiration for the Republican president on an appearance on the Daily Show last year, telling Stewart that Bush did an “amazing” job in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
“I know that’s hard for you to accept,” Bono said to a surprised crowd and host, “but George kind of knocked it out of the park. I can tell you, and I’m actually here to tell you that America now has 5 million people being kept alive by these drugs. That’s something that everyone should know.”
Since leaving office the former president and his wife, Laura, have continued to stay active in global health issues in Africa, now taking on cancer. The George W. Bush Institute has launched the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative to try and bring together both public and private investment to fight cervical and breast cancer in Africa and Latin America. The couple launched the program on a visit to Zambia and Bostwana in July of last year.
Washington Post (July 2012)Quote:
Teaming up with the United Nations, Pepfar, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and various pharmaceutical companies, he helped form the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon program to focus on fighting cervical cancer in Zambia in 2011. The program expanded to Botswana in 2012 and this week to Tanzania. In a paint-splattered shirt, he helped finish the renovation of a clinic in Livingstone, Zambia.
This is an amazing accomplishment, especially because it wasn’t supposed to be possible.
Before PEPFAR, the conventional wisdom was that the drug-treatment regimens that were saving lives in developed countries would not work in Africa. Poor, uneducated people in communities lacking even the most basic infrastructure could not be expected to take the right pill at the right time every day. When the drugs are taken haphazardly, the virus mutates and becomes resistant. Therefore, this reasoning went, trying to administer antiretroviral treatment in poor African countries might actually be worse than doing nothing at all.
The Bush administration rejected these arguments, which turned out to be categorically wrong.
Rhetoric is easy. Making a real difference is not so easy. These good works have likely done more for how the US is perceived in Africa than the many more billions spent on "generic" foreign aid.