John on October 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Presidents increasingly face this kind of thing. What’s striking in this case is how completely the hecklers derail the rally for several minutes.
More significant than the momentary interruption is Obama’s response. These hecklers were concerned about Global Aids funding. And in order to quiet them down he makes some pretty striking statements about what the other side wants and plans to do, saying “We’re funding global aids and the other side is not.”
In fact, President Bush was credited for huge contributions to fighting AIDS in Africa going back to 2003. The Washington Post noted that he had tripled funding by 2006. The AP lauded Bush’s efforts in this regard. The Telegraph called him “an African hero.” The BBC suggested Bush may have been the continent’s best friend. Scientific studies showed the Bush initiated program had reduced the mortality rate by 10%, amounting to hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.
By contrast, there has recently been criticism of the Obama Administration for “flat-funding” of some of the same programs. This is not to suggest that Obama doesn’t care about the problem or even that cutting back on some funding might not be a good idea at some point. But to suggest, as Obama did at this rally, that Republicans haven’t been engaged on the issue or that they are the ones who should be protested for lack of attention to it, that goes beyond playing politics to inverting reality completely. The suggestion that Republicans are against efforts to fight Aids around the world is nothing less than a lie, and a particularly despicable one at that.