Monday, December 03, 2018

Their Records

It's unseemly to "dance on the grave" of anyone who has just died, though I think all former presidents have made enough decisions that have had catastrophic for some people that it is quite understandable if some of those people do. More than that, wanting an honest assessment of their records - the good and the bad - in obituaries and reminisces is perfectly appropriate. Also, too, nobody cares if journalists have fond personal memories of their time spent with these people. It isn't supposed to be one big happy family, and it doesn't matter to the rest of us if his staff remembered to send you a birthday card every year.

Geroge H.W. Bush was a bad president for a lot of reasons. People can make that judgment by themselves, but only if it isn't taboo to actually provide them with the relevant information.

Bush’s administration still dragged its feet on drug treatment and refused to address prevention to the most affected community, gay and bisexual men, which it could have done by simply promoting and funding critical safer sex programs and condom distribution. When ACT UP, the AIDS activist group, targeted Bush in actions at the White House and at his Kennebunkport, Maine, summer retreat, Bush said “behavioral change” was the best way to fight the disease.

Infamously, Bush had said in a television interview that if he had a grandchild who was gay he would “love” the child but would tell the child he wasn’t normal. And like Reagan, he stocked his Cabinet with anti-gay zealots. Health Secretary Louis Sullivan, also protested by ACT UP for his terrible response to HIV, joined forces with evangelical leaders to cover up a government-funded study on teen suicide that found LGBTQ teens were at much higher risk.

If your economic and social status is such that you think it's important if the president was personally nice to you and your friends, then you really have no business putting on a "journalist" hat and discussing that.