Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2003/ 5 Adar I, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Misguided compassionate conservative


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Two Georges crossed a line this past week. George Clooney, one of Hollywood's many useful idiots, entered Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn banishment territory when he mocked Charlton Heston's affliction with Alzheimer's. Uppity Mr. Clooney needs no nails in his coffin from me. He's box office poison.

The other George, Mr. Bush, tossed about his uppity compassionate conservatism. Misplaced compassion countermands meaningful resolution of social problems. Principle resists that impulsive urge to swoop in with feel-good dollars. Tough problems mandate tough love. Witness the drumming evil, as opposed to compassionate, conservatives took for cutting the welfare rolls and putting recipients to work. Former welfare recipients are now grateful for those "non-compassionate" reforms.

Mr. Bush stuck his compassionate big toe into international waters via the AIDS pandemic. Karl Rove poll numbers must be clicking like a PBS fundraiser board. Mr. Bush's obsession with AIDS in Africa stuck out like a sore thumb in a State of the Union address that should have had three themes: economy, health care and Iraq. Fellow citizens still being frisked by airport security for toenail clippers were perplexed.

Mr. Bush sounded like a Democrat or Hollywood type (although there is no discernible difference). Some of us also want the horrific suffering to end. We part ways with Mr. Bush on methodologies. The people of Africa deserve better than nobility professing compassion and tossing dollars in exchange for the accolades of media and liberalentsia (no discernible difference here, either). Mr. Bush landed in their snare when NPR's Juan Williams indicated he was "moved" by Mr. Bush. Our president's pledge to the nations of Africa uses Americans' money for political capital, but offers little resolution. The US as Captain AIDS is misguided.

Mr. Bush expressed astonishment that so many were dying and so little medicine gets to those stricken. Understanding these bottlenecks in medicine and care is critical before ramping up care pipelines. Of the nations coping with AIDS, five, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Madagascar and Angola, are ranked, and by a liberal think tank, Transparency International, as 5 of the ten most corrupt countries on earth. In its 2003 report, TI shows that 4 more of the African nations with AIDS epidemics don't edge above a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1being the most corrupt. The highest rank any African nation achieved was 5.7.

Corruption in every level of government explains missing resources and abysmal allocation systems. The buck stops to enrich those who distribute care. There's a bit more to getting treatment to the African people than the usual liberal solution to all evils: construction of a light rail system.

Mr. Bush and his newfound liberal groupies fail to grasp that the debacles of denied care and resulting suffering documented for them across every media forum have, as their very purpose, drawing more dollars to the corrupt who will usurp them.

Mr. Bush proposes bypassing this corruption by getting dollars to NGOs. I have but one word to counter his Pollyanna belief that NGOs have a corner on virtue: Olympics. Think bribery and 2002. Think French skating judges. Think!

This harebrained use of tax dollars will be ineffectual in solving the AIDS problem in Africa even with adequate and fair distribution. AIDS prevention here and in Africa requires moralizing. Health workers in these African countries, for that matter those in our own CDC, are loathe to mention abstinence, fidelity, drug use, or homosexuality. View the CDC Website and try to find a candid discussion of such.

These folks, instead, introduced a Sesame Street Muppet with AIDS in order to educate African children about the disease and help them develop compassion. We are not fighting TB or polio. Sanitizing the origins of a disease for Africa's next generation, in the name of tolerance, sentences them to its exponential spread. US health care professionals here, and now in Africa, perpetuate the media myth that AIDS is a mainstream disease, unfairly seizing innocents and the unsuspecting. There have even been inane stories about AIDS-afflicted octogenarians in retirement villas. If they have AIDS, the cause is too much Viagra and not enough putting on the golf course.

The most frequent cause of HIV and resulting AIDS is sexual licentiousness. Such a statement causes gasps in African countries where adulterers are stoned. But deadly epidemics require candor. AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease. No Muppet can overcome that causality. Mr. Bush's failure to embrace moralizing and his disregard of corruption's role in treatment obstacles mean that AIDS' inexorable march on Africa will continue. Mr. Bush is in a new category: "misguided compassionate conservative."

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

Up

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© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings