South Africans Are Indoctrinated to Hate Bush, Republicans: Bush’s Africa Legacy StandsPosted: December 10, 2013
Though I agree with Joel’s main point here — and today’s shameful booing of the former president is regrettable — I don’t agree with his suggestion that George W. Bush is uniformly hated in Africa. To the contrary, there are many in Africa who benefited from their partnership with the former president, and remember him fondly.
This article by Eugene Robinson, in the Washington Post, honors the former president’s efforts in Africa:
“…credit and praise must be given where they are due, and Bush’s accomplishment — the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR — deserves accolades. It is a reminder that the United States can still be both great and good…if Africa is gaining ground against AIDS, history will note that it was Bush, more than any other individual, who turned the tide…”
Recall that Bush’s decision to direct enormous financial support to combat AIDs in Africa–though ignored in recent history–was admired, and contributed to saving millions of lives. Read the whole thing.
To the uninformed, this is probably considered uncharacteristic of a Republican president. They don’t know Republicans, and they didn’t know Bush. Bush’s habit of deficit spending, not just on unpopular military campaigns, but also on controversial health and education programs and foreign aid, remains a divisive one among conservatives. Bush saw the AIDs initiative as a matter of national security (though as Robinson points out, the validity of that argument is questionable) as well as an altruistic imperative, and medical necessity, for a nation confronting a serious health crisis.
Why are South Africans taught to hate Republicans? Keep in mind, not all do. As we’ll see, Bush’s is legacy in Africa is more complicated than the global chorus of Republican-bashing Bush-haters would have us believe. But sadly, Joel does have a point.
Joel B. Pollak writes: Former President George W. Bush, as the American left gleefully observed, was booed by some in the audience at the memorial for Nelson Mandela at the First National Bank in Soweto, Johannesburg on Tuesday. President Barack Obama, in contrast, received a standing ovation–in which, Twitchy notes, Bush joined enthusiastically.
Set aside for the moment the fact that Bush has always comported himself with poise and character regarding his successor–a respect that has rarely been reciprocated by Democrats, before or since. (When he arrived in the White House in January 2001, he found that the Clinton staff had removed the “W” from all the keyboards.)
The real puzzle is why an audience of South Africans would boo a man who had done more for Africa than all other U.S. presidents combined–including Clinton, Carter and Obama, all present. Bush’s program to provide HIV/Aids medicines saved hundreds of thousands of lives–over the objections of South Africa’s ruling party.
The Iraq War–vigorously opposed by South Africans–may explain some of the hostility. But the Libya War was also a sore point, and yet Obama is still treated as a hero. The fact is that the hostility towards Bush doesn’t come from any particular place or for any reason–and it is not particular to Bush. It affects all Republicans.
Most South Africans, like many Europeans, treat Republicans as proxies for every political evil: greed, bigotry, war–you name it. That is dogma within South Africa’s ruling party but holds true even for white South Africans, who are often quietly envious of the success of the U.S., and who disdain the patriotism of Republican leaders.
The boos that greeted the best U.S. president Africa has ever had are the product of jealousy and indoctrination, not an objective measure of Bush’s merit relative to Obama. (Indeed, in many places, the U.S. is less popular under Obama.) The boos are a discredit to South Africa–and to those in the U.S. who applauded them.
- Obama, Bush embark for Mandela memorial in South Africa (reuters.com)
- Obama, Bush, Clinton to travel to South Africa (sfgate.com)
- Obama, Bush embark for Mandela memorial in South Africa (news.yahoo.com)
- Obama, Bush, Clinton, Carter attending Mandela memorial (newsfixnow.com)
- Obama to share stage at Mandela memorial with Cuba’s Raul Castro (mcclatchydc.com)