- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Irish rock ‘n’ roll singer Bob Geldof yesterday said President Bush has done more to fight disease and poverty in Africa than any of his predecessors.

Mr. Geldof, long an activist for Africa, was downright effusive about Mr. Bush during an informal meeting with the press yesterday near Kigali, Rwanda.

Mr. Bush “has done more than any other president so far,” Mr. Geldof said.

“This is the triumph of American policy really,” the singer continued. “It was probably unexpected of the man. It was expected of the nation, but not of the man, but both rose to the occasion. What’s in it for him? Absolutely nothing.”

The singer was annoyed that the press had mostly ignored the exuberant reception that Mr. Bush has consistently received during his five-nation tour this week.

“You guys didn’t pay attention,” Mr. Geldof told the assembled reporters yesterday.

Indeed, many news organizations were eager to cover Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s impending retirement in glowing terms. Mr. Castro was called a “dashing revolutionary” by ABC’s Diane Sawyer yesterday; the New York Times deemed him “charismatic.”

Mr. Bush’s African tour drew grudging coverage at best.

“Unpopular at home and in much of the world during the last year of his presidency, George W. Bush is basking in rare adulation on his African tour,” noted one ABC News account.

“President George W. Bush will bequeath his successor one of the more vexed foreign policy environments ever to face an incoming U.S. leader. But one exception is the case of AIDS in Africa, where most analysts agree the Bush legacy will be almost wholly benign,” said Time magazine.

The accounts were different among African news organizations. Mr. Bush was called “relaxed and charming” by the Citizen newspaper in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“Bush at home in Africa, where the U.S. still shines,” said the Namibian.

The Liberian paper also yesterday offered an account which showed that Mr. Bush also resonated with other entertainers besides Mr. Geldof:

“In a humid rehearsal studio, Liberia’s pop queen is practicing her newest single — a song called ‘Thank You’ to be released on the occasion of President George Bush’s visit to this African capital this week. Her head tilted back, her face wet with sweat, Juli Endee pulls the microphone close and belts out, ‘Thank you George Bush,’ ” the account said.

It’s not the first time Mr. Bush got unexpected accolades from the Irishman, though. In 2003, Mr. Geldof praised the Bush administration for clearly allocating funds for AIDS relief in Africa while ignoring some of Mr. Clinton’s high profile HIV/AIDS initiatives , telling the Guardian, “Clinton was a good guy, but he did [nothing.]”

Jon Ward reported from Rwanda.


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