July 7, 2003

BUSH’S AFRICA POLICY IS GETTING PRAISE FROM UNLIKELY SOURCES: Richard Gere and Bob Geldof:

Even liberals have credited Mr. Bush with doing more than his predecessor to help Africa. In May, Live Aid founder Bob Geldof said Mr. Bush is far more committed than Mr. Clinton to fighting AIDS and famine on the continent.

“Clinton talked the talk and did diddly squat, whereas Bush doesn’t talk but does deliver,” said Mr. Geldof, an Irish musician and activist who in 1985 staged the world’s largest rock concert to combat starvation in Africa.

“You’ll think I’m off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical, in a positive sense, in the approach to Africa since Kennedy,” he said.

In February actor Richard Gere lashed out against Mr. Clinton’s record during an AIDS benefit attended by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.

“Senator Clinton, I’m sorry, your husband did nothing for AIDS for eight years,” Mr. Gere said from the podium, although Mrs. Clinton had left the room. Mr. Clinton later belittled Mr. Gere for the remark. . . .

Mr. Foote, of the Constituency for Africa, said the president’s trip will build on the accomplishments of Mr. Clinton.

“Clinton opened the door and broke some new ground when he went to Africa,” he said. “But in terms of the content, there wasn’t much delivered.

“While Clinton said, ‘Yes, in fact, Africa matters, and we ought to give it some thought, ‘ he really was playing to the African-American community,” he said. “When you say Africa matters, you’ve got to beef up the team, and he didn’t do that.”

“The Bush team looked at the continent, understood what they needed to do and did it,” he said. “I mean, that’s Bush’s hallmark; he sizes the situation up and then he’s ready to move.

“He’s handled it a lot more substantively,” Mr. Foote said. “Clinton gave us a bone, and Bush put some meat on the bone.”

It’s funny that Bush’s behavior here hasn’t gotten more attention from mainstream media. I guess it’s because it doesn’t fit the heartless-Republican stereotype.

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