I read the Washington Post so you don't have to. Michael Gerson, former Bush speechwriter, today writes:
Proposals such as No Child Left Behind, the AIDS and malaria initiatives, and the addition of a prescription drug benefit to Medicare would simply not have come from a traditional conservative politician. They became the agenda of a Republican administration precisely because of Bush's persistent, passionate advocacy. To put it bluntly, these would not have been the priorities of a Cheney administration.
Wow. That's a pretty low bar you've set there, Mikey!
This leaves critics of the Bush administration with a "besides" problem. Bush is a heartless and callous conservative, "besides" the 1.4 million men, women and children who are alive because of treatment received through his AIDS initiative . . . "besides" the unquestioned gains of African American and Hispanic students in math and reading . . . "besides" 32 million seniors getting help to afford prescription drugs, including 10 million low-income seniors who get their medicine pretty much free. Iraq may have overshadowed these achievements; it does not eliminate them.
The AIDS initiative? Hah. Or, as I like to call it, the Brand-Name Pharmaceutical Company Welfare Act, which required African nations to buy brand-name AIDS drugs at full price instead of the much cheaper generic versions manufactured outside the U.S. (I think international pressure finally forced him to back down a few years later.)
As to the seniors getting their medicine for free - gee, Mike, don't you think charging top price for the other seniors sort of evened that out in the long run? If there's one thing this president has been compassionate about, it's Big Pharma.
The Bush administration, in my view, should have devoted more resources and creativity to its faith-based initiatives. It should not have vetoed the State Children's Health Insurance Program expansion. The president's budget and economic teams have not been populated with enthusiastic compassionate conservatives, and sometimes this has shown. But by any fair historical measure, Bush's achievements on social justice at least equal those of Bill Clinton, who increased the earned-income tax credit, pushed for children's health coverage and reformed welfare to encourage work.
Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. Let me explain the difference. When Bill Clinton was president, more people had actual jobs. Good jobs, full-time, with benefits. More people had enough money to take care of their families, and there was a strong pro-employee Labor Department in place to protect their rights and keep them from getting killed on the job.
If this president really cared about families, would he have gutted OSHA enforcement? Every worker who died on the job had a family.
This president is a thief who steals everything he can from the poor and most vulnerable, and salves his conscience by putting a few small coins in the poor box.