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Martin LeFevre: The Worst President’s Day

The Worst President’s Day

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

Today is Presidents’ Day in the USA. George Bush is in Africa on his second trip to the continent. He’s not even making an appearance in neighboring strife-torn Kenya, and he’s ignoring the slaughter in Darfur that his administration labeled genocide.

Soaking up the goodwill of the Tanzanian people from beneficial AIDS and malaria programs, Bush struck a discordant note of morality in Arusha, the site of the Rwanda genocide tribunals over the last decade. He said, “The suffering caused by malaria is needless and every death caused by malaria is unacceptable.”

But what is truly unacceptable is the disgrace Bush has brought upon the United States and the United Nations, by using American power to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, while refusing to risk a single helicopter, much less an American life, to stop a genocide by his own definition in Darfur.

With an indifference that sends chills down your spine, George Bush had the temerity in Tanzania to blithely dismiss the chaos in Kenya (not to mention the travesty in Darfur) by saying, “no question, everything is not perfect.”

Bush’s refusal to even set foot in Kenya on his second Africa trip attests to his administration’s obdurate refusal to the lead in situations where American leadership could have made a difference.

Referring to the disdain and even disgust many people in America, Europe, and around the world feel toward George Bush, President Kikwete said: "Different people may have different views about you and your administration and your legacy. But we in Tanzania, if we are to speak for ourselves and for Africa, we know for sure that you, Mr. President, and your administration have been good friends of our country and have been good friends of Africa."

African leaders would do well to remember that this administration is reviled by most Americans, and will probably be replaced by a president of African blood. Barack Obama is running on principles and premises that are the antithesis of everything for which George Bush stands.

It would be ironic indeed if the legacy of the Bush Administration’s humanitarian show of “compassionate conservatism,” and the 700 million dollars Bush just agreed to send to Tanzania to improve the nation’s infrastructure, were to enable that country to be the home of a Global Polity of world citizens. Maasai elders have called for such a body in Tanzania, which will stand against everything George Bush believes in—nationalism, militarism, and Western superiority.

Presidents come and go, but the wars and economic ravages they wreak remain George Bush is widely considered the worst president in American history, and the man or woman who steps into the White House after his eagerly awaited departure will inherit a country, and a world, considerably worse because of him.

Kofi Annan, out of his depth with the existential situation in Kenya, gamely does his diplomatic best to resolve the ethnic conflict at the political level. The problem is, even if he succeeds in working out a power-sharing agreement between the doubtfully elected Kibaki and the wily kingmaker Odinga, it will solve little or nothing.

All governments are nodes of darkness, but not all governments are evil. In our de facto global society, where global governance has become a meaningless cliché, how are world citizens to deal with evil when it politically manifests, as it has in America? Is each eruption of evil its own particular case, to be dealt with solely by the people of the nation that gives rise to it?

Barack Obama often says, “It can be too late.” But it has been too late for America for over decade. What is at issue is whether it will become too late for humankind, and Africa may well decide the matter. Lining up behind the lamest of lame duck presidents is not a wise move, for Africa or humanity.

The outlines of history are always faint, but every once in a while, on a clear night when the moon is half full and Orion whispers of the ages, one can glimpse the arc of humanity. At such rare moments human beings can see the small space between destiny and possibility, and seize the opportunity to change course. This is such a moment.

Martin LeFevre


Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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