In Bed with Michael Gerson on PEPFAR

Scott Swenson

If Karl Rove was Bush's brain, Michael Gerson was his mouth. Now Gerson is mouthing misinformation that PEPFAR has something to do with abortion, and some strange bedfellows (Democrats) remain silent.

If Karl Rove was Bush's brain, Michael Gerson was his mouth. I wonder why anyone would want credit for either, given the President's mangling of language, but careers in Washington are often about reflected glory.

In today's Washington Post, Gerson used his column to further push the spin that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has something to do with abortion. Once again, for the slow learners, it does not. The family planning issue with respect to PEPFAR is about voluntary contraception services, about doing what the bill is supposed to do, prevent HIV.

Yet some Democrats in Congress and some AIDS advocates who should know better are climbing into bed with Gerson and Bush, cuddling up to the GOP spin machine that promises to get PEPFAR passed regardless of how many lies are told, or lives that could be saved are lost. It's risky behavior and perhaps that's part of the thrill. This one night stand is all about the dollars, $50 billion, and if the price is high enough, some people will do anything.

No one is practicing safe sex or politics in that strange bedfellow bed, and it's unclear who is pimping whom. The Democrats will light up a cigarette and take uneasy comfort in Gerson's pillow-talk, pointing out that if they hadn't compromised their principles, the social conservatives might have flown into a fitful rage, slapped them around, maybe even bruised and beaten them. Intimidated, they just do what they're told, silenced by the mere threat, unable to stand up for themselves, their principles, or the people PEPFAR is supposed to serve.

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When it's all about the money, and not about the truth, it somehow seems cheap, tawdry. But what's a little shame among friends, especially among the political elite at the Emperor's Club, where no one wears any clothes.

If only they knew that PEPFAR is really about helping impoverished people in Africa fight HIV/AIDS, not about the ideological divide driving American politics further and further apart.

See all of Rewire's extensive, more substantive PEPFAR coverage.

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