21 February 2008

Bush and Butt Naked

President Bush spent a few hours in the Lone Star State this morning - Liberia, that is, not Texas. Strictly speaking, the founding of Texas in 1842 predates Liberia by six years, but as we say in economics, that's not a statistically significant difference.

As usual with world leaders on tour, President Bush had an entourage of hacks a little less hard-bitten from the usual khaki-clad Africa reporter. Kevin Corke from NBC News was especially shocked at the state of the infrastructure. Fortunately, my friend Conor Hartman (a Scott fellow, working for the Liberian government) was on hand to give him some perspective! After all, the World Bank did just spend $27m fixing that same road.

The New York Times has a long and thoughtful article on Bush's trip; it perceives the 'strong but largely one-way emotional bound' that links the USA and Liberia. I wonder, however, why it is still necessary to prefix all such articles with references to General Butt Naked, President Charles Taylor or child rape. I don't mean to downplay the horror of the Liberian civil war, or the challenges of recovery, but I long for the day when the good news goes in the first paragraph and the challenges in the second.

Having said that, when Bush visited Rwanda earlier this week, every report described it as 'genocide-scarred' or 'post-genocidal', which suggests the Liberians have at least another decade to wait before General Butt Naked is out of the news!

No comments: