Southern Methodist University today unveiled the $250 million George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. President Obama and former Presidents Bush, Carter, and Clinton were there, along with dignitaries from across America and the world.
The celebration tactfully omitted any mention of the three catastrophes of Bush’s presidency—the counterproductive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the financial meltdown that handed the economy to Bush’s friends in the energy industry and Wall Street.
Ironically, today’s celebration focused on two of Bush’s supposed policy triumphs—the No Child Left Behind Act, and his fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. These two supposed triumphs (educators and public health officials more often call them ineffective) mirror and mock two destructive outcomes of Bush’s domestic policies. His policies on sex education harmed tens of millions of children, and his policies on sexual health encouraged the spread of STDs (including HIV/AIDS) in the U.S.
As detailed in my book America’s War On Sex, here’s how President George W. Bush tried to ruin sex:
* Sex Education: Over a billion dollars was spent to promote abstinence-only sex ed. This program taught—literally— that condoms don’t work, sex is dangerous if you’re not married, and that teens who have sex are morally, emotionally, and psychologically deficient. The result was predictable: young people disdaining condoms, and a rush toward oral sex (“not real sex”) at younger ages.
* The War on Porn: Bush’s various Attorneys General were obsessed with prosecuting those who created and distributed movies showing adults having sex. The Justice Department used the Patriot Act to circumvent normal constitutional limits in these investigations, and RICO statutes to destroy anyone found guilty. The government even succeeded in busting the producers of pornographic texts—no photos, just words—something that hadn’t been done in four decades.
* Sponsoring Religion & Religious Values: In addition to championing religiously-based sex ed programs, the Bush Administration created and funded the Department of Faith-based Programs. This neatly funneled tens of millions of dollars to Bush’s supporters in the Christian Right, who were allowed to discriminate in hiring, firing, and program eligibility while using taxpayer funds.
This will actually be one of Bush’s most permanently damaging policies, as no president will ever be able to dismantle a program that directly benefits religious institutions. President Obama, of course, expanded this disgusting giveaway, further eroding the integrity of the First Amendment.
* Censoring & Punishing Broadcasters: Remember Janet Jackson’s nipple? Cher, Bono, and Nicole Richie using satanic syllables on live TV? Over $100 million was ultimately spent in the attempt to prevent Americans from seeing or hearing images or words so dangerous that the Constitution needed to be suspended. To pursue this pointless obsession, Bush empowered groups like the Parents Television Council and Morality in Media, giving these childish hysterics a seat at the policy table. To this day, they are attempting to control what words and pictures Americans are allowed to see and hear on their TVs.
* Destroying Reproductive Rights: Bush personally found contraception for unmarried people distasteful, and tried to eliminate legal abortion. On his watch, hundreds of state laws restricting abortion and contraception were crafted and passed. Bush spent years delaying the availability of Emergency Contraception—a modern medical miracle—as well as Gardasil, a drug that can save thousands of lives by preventing the spread of the type of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer.
So what did Bush accomplish? More sexual confusion, ignorance, guilt, and shame; more unwanted pregnancies and dangerous illegal abortions; more fundamentalist religious values imposed on the rest of the population; and the largest explosion of access to pornography the world has ever known—with a network of federally-funded snitches entrapping more and more adults fantasizing in adult chatrooms.
Happy library and museum, Mr. Bush. Some of us won’t let you rewrite history without a fight.