V-P Debate question about black women and AIDS

I blogged earlier about my disappointment that Edwards was unwilling or unable to address a question about the crisis of AIDS among black women.

Frankly, I’m also disappointed that virtually no one I’ve seen in the left blogosphere – not even those who blogged about the VP debate – seemed put off by this (or if they were, they haven’t mentioned it). Sometimes I worry that the lefty blogosphere has gone too far over the line from blogging about substance to boosterism of Kerry/Edwards. A happy exception is Ms Musings – go check out her post.

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10 Responses to V-P Debate question about black women and AIDS

  1. 1
    NancyP says:

    No question, the testing rate is MUCH lower in the African-American Men-who-have-Sex-with-Men and women who have sex with MSMs populations than in the white self-identified gay male population. The testing rate of prison inmates is very low, in part because prisons don’t want to be responsible for the expense of treating people who aren’t obviously on death’s door. The prisons also don’t test for hepatitis.

    Yes, both should perform better.

    Yes, the lefty blogosphere doesn’t do all that well on racial minority HIV/AIDS issues, partly because it doesn’t do all that well on racial minority issues and partly because few of the most popular lefty bloggers have enough medical background to be strongly interested in HIV/AIDS issues. I would guess that 90% of political bloggers from left or right have no significant science education. Two Cultures time – showing my age, eh?

  2. 2
    ScottM says:

    Garance Franke-Ruta did address it on Tapped, here: http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2004/10/index.html#004300

    Of course, she was fighting against the current; most of Tapped’s other commentators thought the question should be skipped.

  3. 3
    Shannon says:

    While I don’t want anyone to get AIDs, I’d like to note that AIDs is such a bad epidemic because we think we can just ignore it- “Oh, it’s just gay men. We can just ignore them.” “Oh, it’s just black women, we can just ignore them”. “Oh, it’s just those people in Africa, in China, in India”. Everyone’s health is important, and when we pretend otherwise, we put everyone in danger. We need to figure out more effective ways to fight AIDs, not worry about whether people’s lives matter or not.

  4. 4
    Jen says:

    Frankly, I didn’t think Edwards came off that liberal. I think he actually is in some ways and would definitely be if pressured, but I’m not sure how he came off as a democrat. If I had lots of problems with Bush, I’d have many of the exact same problems with Kerry/Edwards. (I am aware that they are all you have at this point.)

    As far as your response to the AIDS question goes, I think it’s fair to point out that more black men than white men are imprisoned in this country and inmates are widely rumored to have unprotected, anal sex with one another (forced and consentual) so maybe it’s not merely homophobia, but rather denial, shame and other issues associated with rape. Also, AIDS tests may not be taken as frequently and/or early by low-income society. (I have done zero research to back this up.) If this is the case, you’ve got more black men/women than white men/women spreading the disease before they even know it.

  5. 5
    Diane says:

    I was disturbed by it, but didn’t blog about the debate. It didn’t surprise me that Cheney wasn’t aware of the statistics, and it didn’t surprise me that Edwards didn’t want to touch the question. To deal honestly with the question, one would have to address the issue of homophobism within the African American community, and the Democratic candidate certainly wouldn’t want to do that.

  6. 6
    Lauren says:

    Frankly, I’m disturbed that neither of them had heard of the statistics. Anyone with any interest in healthcare (as they claim to have) would be aware that AIDS is an epidemic elsewhere and among certain populations in the US is becoming increasingly more worrisome.

    Then again, a guy I grew up with was diagnosed HIV+ last year. Straight, white, middle-class. It takes the blinders off.

  7. 7
    Rad Geek says:

    “The time is not yet ready for Democratic presidential candidates to come out for gay marriage. The state of public opinion just isn’t there yet. Maybe by the 2008 campaign it will be. Then again, maybe not. Gay rights has made enormous progress in the last year or so. Let’s consolidate and build on that rather than provoke a backlash by trying to do too much too fast.”

    Whether this analysis is correct or not, there’s no need to answer a question about gay marriage by repeating that “marriage is for a man and a woman” 6 or 8 times. Edwards could just as easily have made his point by saying that he is not advocating gay marriage, but he supports gay rights and believes that the question of marriage should be left up to the states instead of enforced through a constitutional amendment. That would have been a much better way to weasel out of the question without trying to run to the Right of Cheney on gay marriage and slapping a lot of people you claim to be supporting in the face.

  8. 8
    Don P says:

    But the gay marriage issue was taken up with tongs and tossed out the window like a radioactive turd. If anything, Cheney scored “sensitivity” points, their mutually shared discomfort with queer family members made him seem “sympathetic.” I’d say just “pathetic.” But whatever, they couldn’t articulate, as no one can, why marriage should be “one man, one wuh-muhn” beyond what Kip has called the skwik factor. It came off weak and homophobic lite. “We love you, accept you, but don’t share our civil rights, please.”

    Well, really, what do you expect? The perfect is the enemy of the good. Kerry/Edwards may not be perfect, but they’re so much better than Bush/Cheney that there’s no comparison. I suppose Edwards could have come out resolutely in favor of gay marriage, which is what I suspect he really believes in his heart, but if he had done that he would have alienated millions of potential Kerry/Edwards voters. The time is not yet ready for Democratic presidential candidates to come out for gay marriage. The state of public opinion just isn’t there yet. Maybe by the 2008 campaign it will be. Then again, maybe not. Gay rights has made enormous progress in the last year or so. Let’s consolidate and build on that rather than provoke a backlash by trying to do too much too fast.

  9. 9
    Don P says:

    Frankly, I’m also disappointed that virtually no one I’ve seen in the left blogosphere – not even those who blogged about the VP debate – seemed put off by this (or if they were, they haven’t mentioned it).

    Perhaps you should reflect on the possibility that the reason why virtually no one else on the left seems to care that Edwards chose to speak about AIDS in Africa rather than address Ifill’s specific question is because they share my view that the question was inappropriate and poorly formulated and that AIDS in Africa is a much more important issue and was much more worthy of attention during the limited time available.

  10. 10
    Kevin Moore says:

    I share your annoyance. I didn’t post on the debates, cuz I try not to be too redundant with my fellow leftoids. But then, as you note, they were all pretty psyched up that Edwards held his own against Dr. E-ville. There is a lot of distracting noise right now, so it is hard to keep these guys in proper perspective. Edwards busting Cheney’s chops on Halliburton is sorely needed in a nationwide debate, so big thumbs up.

    But the gay marriage issue was taken up with tongs and tossed out the window like a radioactive turd. If anything, Cheney scored “sensitivity” points, their mutually shared discomfort with queer family members made him seem “sympathetic.” I’d say just “pathetic.” But whatever, they couldn’t articulate, as no one can, why marriage should be “one man, one wuh-muhn” beyond what Kip has called the skwik factor. It came off weak and homophobic lite. “We love you, accept you, but don’t share our civil rights, please.”

    The black women with AIDS dodge dropped my jaw. Cheney again scored points simply for admitting that he had never heard the statistics Gwenn Iffel quoted before. But that’s it. They both exploited the issue for their scripted talking points. Way to think on your feet, white dudes.