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Tuesday, July 08, 2003
The question here is: how much political benefit of the doubt do you give a seemingly beneficial policy proposed by the opposition before you can start legitimately objecting?

In his State of the Union address, Bush proposed a big increase (like double) in AIDS funding to Africa.

Immediately it was clear that this was pandering in no small part--"Hi black people, we're against affirmative action and, oops, Trent Lott, but we like Africans!"--but whatever, much of the good in politics comes from pandering, so OK.

It was soon clear that there were problems with this funding because it is cotemporaneous with the conservative objection against providing funding for contraception in foreign aid; given that condoms are one of the best ways to stop AIDS (although this is problematic in Africa for various cultural reasons), treatment without prevention seemed a likely result.

But now guess who Bush picked to be the AIDS "czar"? Go on, guess. Think outside the box. (But no, not as far outside the box as Michael Savage.)

Bush's choice of former Eli Lilly & Co boss Randall Tobias was announced on Tuesday at the White House, just four days before Bush's first trip as president to Africa.

Yes, a former pharmaceutical CEO. It's like the punchline to a Bush-bashing joke, isn't it?

Like so many things about this administration, while it may seem astoundingly dunderheaded to most people, it is doubtless firmly in line with Bush's oddly idealistic conviction that corporations are a better model for government than, well, government. So it's not really evil, it's just...well, I hesitate to say dumb, so let's just say it's out of line with my particular set of beliefs.

Oh, never mind. It's pretty dumb. Any African AIDS policy should have a strong relationship with the market so it'll have some chance of success, but I think Bush could've found an appointee who had ties without having, you know, kind of a vested interest. I mean, whether they have a right to or not (I'm undecided), it's pretty much a fact that the pharmacutical companies are what's preventing AIDS drugs from getting to Africa right now, and that's sort of the major problem at present, although issues of distribution and education are desperately pressing as well. So fine, let the guy be on the council or something, but good lord, don't make him head of the goddamn commission. This is the problem and the fallout from bashing State and NGOs in general.

This would be the point at which you can legitimately start criticizing the policy, I think.