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Last week, President George Bush offered the nation his State of the Union address. Not surprisingly, he made little-to-no mention of LGBT issues.
The closest Bush came was noting the toll HIV-AIDS is taking on Africa, asking the legislature to pledge $1.2 billion over five years to combat the immune disease and malaria in 15 countries on the continent. Interestingly, he made no mention of the fight we wage against HIV/AIDS here in the country he governs.
No doubt, Bush used the war in Iraq as the focal point of his address. In a deadly conflict that has no end in sight, he stood by his decision to send 21,500 more troops into Iraq. His lack of war strategy and mounting military and civilian deaths, made it easy to divert attention by feigning compassion for Africa, a continent long overlooked by his administration.
In the Democratic response, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia did not mince words.
“The president took us into this war recklessly,” Webb said. “We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.”
One thing bush wanted to make clear to Americans: We are not safe.
With his reference to variations on the word terror, terrorist, terrorism – with at least 25 references during the address – his repetitive efforts were to instill fear. And he’s right. We are not safe. Not from him or his administration, as long as he focuses attention and resources away from his homeland.
Bush managed to spit out the words “global warming” but if the past six years are any indicator, it’s doubtful this president will take any action to address the environmental emergency.
Also missing from Bush’ address was any mention of the ongoing rebuilding efforts in Louisiana, still reeling 17 months after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. Louisiana politicians are outraged, and it’s understandable, when our leader turns a blind eye to critical situations in his own back yard.
Ignoring HIV/AIDS funding, the rebuilding of New Orleans, the devastatingly uneven economy … this sends a clear message. America is taking a back seat.
When Bush took office in 2000, he struggled with foreign policy. Ironically, as he trolls toward this last two years in office, his State of the Union presented more like a State of the Foreign Nations address.
And again, we as LGBT folk and those living with HIV/AIDS are lost in the shuffle.
“American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy,” Bush told lawmakers during his address. “Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required.”
Yes, President Bush. Please take time to reflect upon your own words.
While trying to expand freedoms throughout the world, Bush is eroding ours here and forgetting to pay attention to all citizens of the United States.
Don’t forget about us Americans. All of us.