May 29, 2002

THE BEAR SAYS I’m wrong about Bill Frist’s HIV/Terrorism speech, and that so is Knoxville media commentator “Bubba Mullet.” I’d say only half wrong — I thought that the meat of the criticism was that Frist was tying AIDS to terrorism via a “root cause” argument, mostly to get more money. I agree with The Bear when he notes:

What I think we can clearly conclude, though, is that he is at least suggesting that there are similarities between the problem of solving the HIV crisis, and the problem of combating bioterrorism. To me, that’s a perfectly sensible argument, although as Bubba points out, Frist may well be drawing that comparison to gain public support for a major funding initiative he’s promoting. But that doesn’t necessarily make it an invalid comparison.

No, it’s not necessarily invalid. And I don’t think the program that Frist is pushing is bad. It’s just an example of how many initiatives that don’t really have a lot to do with terrorism are being relabeled as terrorism-related now. This sort of thing happens all the time in government, but I think it’s worth pointing out when it does.