Bush on AIDS: Competing Moral Imperatives

Craig Sterritt


AIDS. 2003;17(18s) 

In This Article


Following President Bush's proposal of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief during his 2003 State of the Union Address, responses from the press, pundits, and representatives of virtually every type of US and international AIDS organization ranged from blithe credulity to scathing cynicism. A notably common feature of these varied reactions, however, was surprise: even after 8 years of rightward crab-walking by a democratic administration, it was clear that many weren't prepared for a Bush jump in the opposite direction.

And such a big jump: the president's charge called for a startling $10 billion in new global AIDS funds over 5 years. Among liberals, many frankly rankled at the concept of George W. Bush as the "great AIDS president."

In short time, though, voices from the more pragmatic Left emerged to remind interested parties that motives and even sincerity were less important than the possible gains that could result from this unexpected foothold. Skepticism, cynicism, and nit-picking would be counter-productive; gratefulness and earnest guidance might make all the difference. This, of course, with the clear and consistent understanding that there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.


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