President Bush and Hillary Clinton are both shuffling their feet, but only one of them seems to be enjoying it.
President Bush – a self-proclaimed “non-dancer” who has nevertheless been seen dancing at least one other time in his presidency, with free Georgians – got up and awkwardly rocked about in Liberia, where national pop stars have been serenading him with thank you’s rarely covered by the press.
Her head tilted back, Juli Endee pulled the microphone close and belted out, “Thank you, George Bush.”
“Thank you for democracy,” she crooned over the electric guitar, shaking her hips wrapped in yellow cloth. “Thank you for the rule of law,” she sang. “Thank you for debt relief.”
Don Surber calls Bush the best friend Africa ever had:
Bush’s record in Africa is amazing. Despite a $3 trillion budget, presidents don’t get a lot of say in how the money is spent. Half the money goes to entitlements. And Congress has the power of the purse. But Bush has made fighting AIDS, HIV and malaria in Africa a priority.
The American press may not have noticed, but the foreign press has. Reuters reported: “Because of the U.S. anti-malaria program, 5 percent of patients tested positive for the disease on the offshore islands of Zanzibar in 2007 compared to 40 percent three years earlier, the Tanzanian leader said.”
The coverage of Bush’s African tour there has been nothing like the messianic, day-to-day coverage of Bill Clinton’s stay there, a decade ago – and we hear little about the accountability that Bush is demanding of African nations as the payback for America’s humanitarianism.
From the International Herald Tribune:
There was the president, speaking forcefully in Tanzania about long-held American values; not just freedom as an obligatory throw away line, but of democracy in terms of good governance, and of the importance of heeding the people and serving their needs.
“I’ll put it bluntly – America doesn’t want to spend money on people who steal the money from the people,” Bush said, addressing the news media together with his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete.
“We like dealing with honest people and compassionate people,” he added. “We want our money to go to help the human condition and to live human lives.”
…the United States, with its emphasis on good government, democracy and rights has positioned itself to be the friend of African peoples, while China positions itself as a friend of African governments. Where the Clinton administration often favored African strongmen, Bush’s visit tilts policy in favor of cleanliness and democracy.
Mainstream Coverage in the US is pretty thin, and hardly gushing:
Tens of thousands of Liberians poured into the streets as the American convoy ranged through town. Barechested boys, toothless old men and women with babies strapped to their backs ran alongside, laughing and chanting, ”We want peace.” …
They all sang paeans to the American president, George W. Bush, but in the high-speed Liberian pidgin spoken here it sounded something like ”Jaw Boo,” as in: ”Oh, George Bush, we like you. Oh, George Bush.”
”Americans are just not used to being received this way,” confessed one member of the assessment team.
You know what? That’s really true. In places where freedom is taken for granted, our president and our troops are not received with joy. But in places where liberty is still longed for and prized, the story is quite different.
O Jaw Boo, we like you!
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is skidding around, trying to find some traction in a campaign that is careening downward. She (or her campaign) is complaining that the press is doing the bump-bump-bump with Obama, and standing her up:
Clinton was seven minutes into her speech Tuesday night, shortly after being projected to lose the Wisconsin primary, when Obama bounded onto a stage and all the cable news networks — after a brief split-screen moment — cut away from her to him.
As Obama went into overtime — while the rest of Sen. Clinton’s speech in Youngstown, Ohio, went unheard by the country — her aides were stewing over what they see as media favoritism toward the Illinois senator. …
“Whatever happened to equal time?” Clinton spokesman Phil Singer asked yesterday.
You can’t say she doesn’t have some grounds for complaint, there. However, as a New Yorker, I can’t feel too badly for her. I remember all too well how she and her campaign steamrolled over Rick Lazio’s concession speech in 2000, barely allowing him to graciously congratulate Hillary on her win before she trundled out and started doing the “clap-clap-point-point” thing – stealing all the coverage even before giving her victory speech.
It’s a cliche because it’s true; what goes around, comes around.