I have seen it said that attempts to criticize Obama regarding Ebola are the worst sort of partisan politics. That the Ebola outbreak — particularly in West Africa — is unprecedented, and people have a serious job to do. That seeking out scapegoats and trying to tie them to Obama is symptomatic of the depraved political culture that has developed in this country.
I’d like to address that point of view.
First of all, there is no doubt that there are people out there who are driven by partisan politics, and will gleefully jump on any hint that a president has been unprepared for a crisis, no matter how unprecedented. Among that group of partisan cretins is Barack Obama. Here is video, which I previously embedded in this post, showing Obama blasting Bush for allegedly being unprepared for the avian flu — and comparing it to (of course) Katrina:
Having sowed the wind, as depicted in that video above (if you’re going to argue with me about this, watch it first), I can’t say I’m going to be too disturbed if partisan hacks like Obama reap the whirlwind.
Katrina was certainly unprecedented, but that didn’t seem to prevent people from blaming it on Bush. To those who complain about current partisan sniping, I would be happy to personally obtain a soapbox for them — assuming, of course, that they stood up during Katrina and solemnly declared that partisan politics was inappropriate, because the federal government had a job to do. The line forms over there. I think I saw one or two soapboxes; we shouldn’t need more than that.
Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right, and Obama’s hackery doesn’t mean that it’s right to turn an unprecedented crisis into an opening for rank partisanship. That’s not what I’m doing, though.
I don’t like Obama. I think he’s a liar and an incredible narcissist. That said, though, speaking for myself, I have a larger goal in criticizing the federal government concerning Ebola, and I will confess it now: I am trying to chip away at the public’s complacent acceptance of the proposition that the feds are in control, and that we can trust them to take care of everything.
That kind of cow-like trust in authority was on full display in this clip from Shepard Smith on Fox News yesterday.
As Allahpundit pointed out, Smith gets his facts wrong in this rant. He claims that the second infected nurse was asymptomatic when she boarded a plane, but in fact, she had a fever. (I will note as well that at 4:10 he says that “two health care workers have died in Texas” — an evident brain freeze. That’s OK, we all have them!) But errors like that aside, this part really struck me, at 5:00:
Someday something might start spreading that they can’t control, and then you know what we’re gonna have to do? We’re gonna have to relax and listen to leaders.
I am going to suggest to you that a blind trust in “leaders” is not wise, because a) they’re not always honest with us, and b) they don’t know as much as they would like to have you believe.
I know I keep repeating this, but I’m going to do so again because it’s highly relevant. On September 16, Obama said:
In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.
Was he lying? We partisans certainly have an opinion about that (which is: yes!) — but this is a post addressing the non-partisans (or at least those who claim to be) . . . and in that context, “Was he lying” is not the most productive question to ask. Let’s just stick with the facts. As Dana pointed out in this post, a nurses’ union said of the Dallas hospital:
There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system.
The guidelines were constantly changing and “there were no protocols” at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as the hospital treated a patient with Ebola, the co-president of National Nurses United says.
Protective gear nurses initially wore left their necks exposed; they felt unsupported and unprepared, and they received no hands-on training, co-president Deborah Burger says, citing information she said came from nurses at the hospital.
Were these problems confined to Dallas? Apparently not:
Out of more than 1,900 nurses in 46 states and Washington D.C. who responded, 76 percent said their hospital still hadn’t communicated to them an official policy on admitting potential patients with Ebola. And a whopping 85 percent said their hospital hadn’t provided educational training sessions on Ebola in which nurses could interact and ask questions.
The survey also found that 37 percent of nurses felt their hospital had insufficient supplies for containing the deadly virus, including face shields and goggles or fluid-resistant gowns.
We have seen Obama tell potentially exposed West Africans it’s OK to ride the bus, while the CDC tells potentially exposed Americans to stay off public transportation. We have seen the CDC tell an infected nurse to ride on an airplane, and then seen the CDC head say that never should have happened. We have seen CDC officials tell a woman to go shopping in public with her partner after they had both spent time in close contact with an Ebola patient who has since died. Meanwhile the CDC and NIH tell us they could have prevented it all, if we had just given them more money — and never mind the money they spent on studies about poo-flinging monkeys or the rerun-watching habits of Americans, or their lavish multi-million dollar health centers with zero-gravity chairs and mood music.
My goal is not to use a health care crisis to take a few cheap whacks at Obama. My goal is to suggest that people question their trust in government, and to prompt them to consider that maybe, just maybe, they need to think for themselves.