The Good Deeds of George W. Bush

Most African Americans were overcome with joy and pride last week when Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States. Very few African Americans were sorry to see George W. Bush leave Washington. Over the past eight years, Bush had sought to turn back the tables on affirmative action in higher education and had made efforts to eliminate many higher education programs that disproportionately benefited blacks.

But often lost in the Bush legacy is the fact that he appointed many blacks — including Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell — to high government posts where blacks had previously not served.

But perhaps one of Bush’s most important positive contributions was his effort to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. The effort was first announced in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address when $15 billion was pledged over five years to fight AIDS in Africa. Bush also supported a $1.2 billion effort to stem malaria by providing drugs and netting for children’s beds.

Bill Frist, a physician who was Senate majority leader in the early years of the Bush administration, estimates that the two programs saved the lives of over 10 million Africans.