First There Is an AIDS Office, Then There Is No AIDS Office, Then There Is …

As a public service to understandably confused news consumers, here is a chronology of recent developments surrounding the White House AIDS office:

First, White House chief of staff Andy Card told USA Today on Feb. 7 that the White House offices on AIDS and race were being eliminated.

Then, White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Card had been mistaken; the two offices would be kept open.

Then, Chatterbox pointed out that a close examination of Fleischer’s  entire comment on the matter revealed that the two offices really had been closed, Fleischer’s protestations notwithstanding, and that while the closing of the race office was probably a good idea (it never did anything), the closing of the AIDS office probably wasn’t.

Then, the Washington Post published a Page One “beat-sweetener” about Card on Feb. 20 that actually praised Card for falling “on his sword” and pretending that he really had been mistaken because that way the Bush White House could close the two offices without anybody finding out. The deception “demonstrated the fierce loyalty and discipline of Card,” concluded the Post’s Dana Milbank.

Then, Andrew Sullivan, the gay conservative New Republic “TRB” columnist, wrote an item on his Web site affirming that the White House AIDS office was too still in business. (Sullivan’s “Daily Dish” archive doesn’t appear to go back far enough to retrieve the item itself.)

Then, Karen DeYoung reported in the March 31 Washington Post that “the only thing left of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy is a Web site directing callers to an empty office with a telephone no one answers.”

Then, the White House named gay Republican Scott Evertz to run a “reorganized” White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Bush had previously, during the Republican primary campaign, declined to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans, whose Wisconsin chapter Evertz heads, because “I don’t believe in group thought, pitting one group of people against another.” But Bush subsequently met with an ad hoc group of gay Republicans, including Evertz, after he locked up the nomination.

Chatterbox will continue to monitor developments in this swiftly changing story.