The Hill reported yesterday: "Obama fires back at AIDS protesters, tells them to hassle GOP." A group of protesters interrupted Obama's speech chanting "Fund Global AIDS." He is reported to have said:
"I think it would make a lot more sense for you guys to go to the folks who aren’t interested in funding global AIDS and chant at that rally," Obama said. "Because we’re trying to focus on figuring out how to finance the things that you want financed, all right?"
No. It really wouldn't make more sense to anyone familiar with the issue. But that's what he's banking on. And it's a good bet that most Americans don’t have the foggiest idea what this is about. Obama has taken this rhetorical tact of "Go protest the Republicans" on several occasions and when he employs it, he's counting on most people's simplistic understanding of LGBT issues and policies. For most of America the understanding is thus: GOP = Bad for gays. Dem = Good for gays. Look no further. But what if we did?
If we did, we'd see it's a sloppy dodge Obama's making to distract from addressing the real issue.
Let's put aside that protesting most of GOP is pointless to the LGBT community. They will videotape the protests and play them on an endless loop for their supporters. Let's also overlook that GOP never asks for money, time or votes from the LGBT community. Protesting them is pointless as they have no interest in our community's support, or as being seen as anything but our mortal enemies anyway.
Let's look at the lie Obama is telling. The protesters were protesting, specifically Obama's policy of global AIDS funding. About the only nice thing I can say about Bush, is for some reason he made funding AIDS medicinal programs in Africa a financial priority. Obama has walked that back.
So, not only are they protesting a very specific act of Obama, they are longing for a return to the GOP policies of George W. Bush. Obama is playing partisan politics to hide his actions and policy decisions that were his administration’s alone. From AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care.
In 2009 Obama pledged billion for HIV/AIDS over a five-year period, as part of the Global Health Initiative. The total funding request for FY2010 for global HIV/AIDS was .7 billion. Funding for 2009-2010 was effectively flat-lined in contrast to the much higher previous year-on-year increases in funding, especially from 2006-2009. In effect, 2010 was the first year US funding for PEPFAR did not increase. Obama's proposed 2011 budget includes almost billion for PEPFAR, representing a 2.2% increase. However, according to some AIDS activists this slight increase is actually a 'step backwards' due to inflation and increasing demand for treatment. The flat-lining of the PEPFAR budget means, so far, the proposed billion target is far from being reached.
But don't take my word for it, I'm just a noisy gay. Here's what Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu has to say:
Under the Bush administration, about 400,000 more African patients received treatment every year. President Obama’s PEPFAR strategy would reduce the number of new patients receiving treatment to 320,000 — resulting in 1.2 million avoidable deaths over the next five years, according to calculations by two Harvard researchers, Rochelle Walensky and Daniel Kuritzkes. Doctors would have to decide which of the 22 million Africans afflicted with H.I.V. should receive treatment and which should not.
President Obama’s plan to decrease support is deeply distressing; American financing for the fund should be increasing.
Of course, it much easier to just brush this issue off as some unreasonable homosexuals who will never be pleased, and just distracting him from the more important stuff they are “focused on.” (Which is apparently not preventing 1.2 million deaths in Africa. Sorry to bother you.)
By the way, it should be noted, the Hill article makes no reference to the many critques made of Obama's policy on global AIDS funding. He has been targeted for some time on this issue and it really isn't so hard to have researched the issues the protesters were attempting to draw attention to. Why look, Doctors without Borders shared their concerns with Newsweek. But apparently it was too much work for them.
Gracious thanks to FogCityJohn for the links. He blogs at The Body.