It’s true, he always makes me laugh. It’s the bow tie, the strangled delivery (he always looks like he’s careful not to open his mouth too much, lest something fly in…or out), and his oh-so-prim-and-proper prudery.
But early in the American epidemic, political values impeded public health requirements. Unhelpful messages were sent by slogans designed to democratize the disease — “AIDS does not discriminate” and “AIDS is an equal opportunity disease.”
George, you are a Republican. Vague political slogans that dance around the actual issues without mentioning any vulgar behaviors or body parts is part of the party rules. Yours is the party that gets the vapors when a nipple is exposed.
By 1987, when President Ronald Reagan gave his first speech on the subject, 20,798 Americans had died, and his speech, not surprisingly, did not mention any connection to the gay community. No president considers it part of his job description to tell the country that the human rectum, with its delicate and absorptive lining, makes anal-receptive sexual intercourse dangerous when HIV is prevalent.
I wonder why? I seem to recall that when Jocelyn Elders mentioned that masturbation was a normal sexual practice, conservatives and the Religious Right rose up in fury and demanded that she be fired…and to his shame, Clinton caved. I’m trying to imagine the response from the Republican base if Bush admonished everyone to wear a condom when engaging in anal sex.
See? Funny guy. I broke out laughing alone in my office at that thought.
He did fail to mention that other delicate epithelium, though: the one lining the vagina. He managed to choke out the information that heterosexual intercourse is the major mode of HIV transmission in Africa, but failed to encourage the admission that vaginal-receptive sexual intercourse is also dangerous. In addition to HIV, you can catch a whole raft of sexually transmitted diseases: syphilus, human papilloma virus, trichomoniasis, pubic lice, gonorrhea, nongonococcal urethritis, herpes, molluscum contagiosum, lymphogranuloma venereum, and pregnancy. Please…I really want to hear George W. Bush rattle off that list in a public address, and urge all of the men to avoid ejaculating on delicate membranes.
On second thought, maybe this scene is a more appropriate analog of the proposed Bush speech.