Here’s my ranking of presidents over the past 120 years.
Here’s my ranking of presidents over the past 120 years.
Remember the Ebola scare?
Recall the virus that caused a nationwide panic and metastasized into an October surprise for Republicans, who unabashedly fanned the flames of fear for months, thus ending up as an unseemly political windfall for the party which spent most of the last election cycle inciting hysteria. For Republicans, fear has become a viable political strategy. It’s their nuclear weapon, or in the case of Ebola, their biological weapon.
Unfortunately, instigating fear works. Scaring the hell out of people triggers votes. Fear wins elections, even when it turns out there wasn’t all that much to worry about, after all.
No one remembers yesterday’s news, nor recalls last year’s lies. Like the tiny microbe with origins in west Africa that caused many Americans to avoid public places and cancel their travel plans, the farce of fear perpetuated upon the nation has pretty much been forgotten now. Out of the news, out of sight, out of mind. Our attention is now focused elsewhere, on the next
flavor crisis of the month.
Not so fast. Let’s re-evaluate the Ebola outbreak, and the political response to the crisis, shall we? Want to know how many Americans are currently infected with the Ebola virus? Try this for a number.
That’s right, zero. None. Nada. Not a single case. SOURCE HERE
So, how many U.S. residents ended up dying of Ebola?
Let’s make this a bit more clear — that’s 1 death out of 313,160,000 people. Three more citizens were infected, two nurses here on U.S. soil and one a medical professional who worked on the front lines of the battle against the disease in Liberia who returned to U.S. shores unknowingly as a carrier. All three were immediately treated upon discovery, eventually released, and have since fully recovered.
Fact is, the federal government’s calm and steady approach to the crisis worked. Led by officials from the Obama Administration who didn’t panic and operated in a concerted effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this all proves once again that an active partnership between government and science stands as the most effective response we have when confronted with such a threat. In the end, cool and collected heads prevailed, thus refuting and ultimately embarrassing all those who were so willing to scare people for their selfish political interests.
Looking back now, what many Republicans did amounted to medical McCarthyism. Fear mongers called the Ebola crisis “Obama’s Katrina.” [SOURCE HERE] One Republican senator claimed “we can no longer trust our public health officials [SOURCE HERE].” Several congressmen called for travel bans to and from west Africa — 65 Republicans (versus just 9 Democrats) even went on record [SOURCE HERE]. Republicans wanted air passengers from that part of the world quarantined upon arrival at U.S. airports [SOURCE HERE]. There was talk of sealing off the border with Mexico [SOURCE HERE].
Shame on them. Shame on these “leaders,” who exhibited anything but leadership in the face of danger.
Paul Waldman, from The American Prospect, summed it up best. He wrote:
Imagine that a year ago, I told you that a few months hence, west Africa would see the largest Ebola outbreak in history. Then I explained that despite regular travel in and out of the affected countries by health professionals and ordinary people, there would be a grand total of two – not two hundred, or two thousand, but two – Americans who contracted the disease here, and both of them would be nurses who had treated a dying patient who had contracted the disease in Liberia. And I told you that both of them would be treated, and would survive and be healthy. If I had told you that a year ago, would you have said, ‘Wow, that sounds like a gigantic federal government failure?’ Of course not. You’d say that sounds like a public health triumph.
What might have happened if we would have listened to Republicans instead? Well, the virus could undoubtedly be much worse now, even in the U.S. and certainly abroad. Medical professionals, in many cases brave volunteers, might have been dissuaded from a participating in a global health initiative. Many American doctors and nurses might not have gone over to Africa to help those desperately in need, preventing further spread of the disease. Travel bans, forced quarantines, and closed borders — the very things Republicans proposed — would have been both totally unnecessary and riled up even more public hysteria. Then, there’s the disgraceful politicizing of the issue and open discrediting of medical professionals who ignored these partisan taunts and did their job. They deserve an apology. It’s Republicans who panicked who should be discredited.
What does this all have to do with the present tense?
Well, quite a lot. For one thing, there’s a Republican official in North Carolina who actually opposes laws requiring restaurant workers to wash their hands after going to the bathroom [SOURCE HERE]. At least that’s little more than the lunacy of a wacko playing to his Tea Party base. What’s really alarming is there are so many climate change deniers among Republican ranks. One just happens to be Republican Sen. James Inhofe. That alone might not be such a big deal, except that Sen. Inhofe is the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, in other words, the main arm of government in charge of funding just about every federal program and policy related to climate science. Want to know Sen. Inhofe’s primary source on refuting the findings of thousands of scientists on the subject of man-made climate change? The Holy Bible [SOURCE HERE]. How’s that for a shock? Then, there’s the mind-boggling anti-science, government-is-the-root-of-all-evil rhetoric of Republican Sen. Rand Paul who insisted recently that all vaccines should be “voluntary” [SOURCE HERE]. This from the same senator who also claims come vaccines cause mental disorders [SOURCE HERE]. Oh, and this guy might actually run for president.
Science has given humanity wondrous gifts. Medical research has saved countless lives. Scientific discoveries — many of them government funded — have made horrible diseases both survivable and manageable. Instead of celebrating this fact, many Republicans choose to deny, lie, distort, and scare. These people aren’t stupid. They dangerous. Worst of all, they’re in positions of leadership and power.
If the Ebola virus frightened you, that should care the hell out of you even more.
Postscript 1: The National Institute of Health continues to be badly underfunded. NIH is supporting far fewer research grants than previously — a 22 percent decrease over the past ten years. In 2013, the last year for which data is available, there were 49,581 grant applications, and only 8,3 –- about 17 percent — were funded [SOURCE HERE].
Postscript 2: SHOCKER: REPUBLICAN BUDGETS DEVASTATE NIH FUNDINGRead More