Do what? Blow President Obama to political smithereens for not instituting a travel ban. Make it happen NOW. Don’t wait, get it done. If you haven’t torched Obama by noon on Wednesday and forced your Democrat opponent into a Hobson’s choice between backing Obama on an indefensible policy choice and dispiriting his/her base by offering some “me, too” pablum, then you don’t deserve to win.
We say this for two reasons. First, that nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has come down with Ebola, as everybody knows, but nobody is quite sure how she got the virus. The CDC is making itself look like idiots fluctuating between assuming there was a breach of its protocol in handling Ebola patients and crawfishing on such statements in order to avoid looking like they’re being mean to the sick nurse.
It’s a colossal mess, and if social media is any barometer regular people are more and more frustrated, confused, furious and losing faith in the federal government over Ebola by the minute. You want to run on cleaning up Washington and introducing some competence and commitment to the American people up there, right? Well, now that the nurse has come down with the virus there’s a compelling narrative about how there is no longer an argument for letting any more Thomas Eric Duncans show up, run up a $500,000 hospital bill on the taxpayers’ dime and wipe out the hospital staffs where they end up.
Plus, there’s a fresh case in Kansas City which might be Ebola. And there’s a plane from Dubai to Boston that looked for a while like Ebola Airways, though the scare turned out to be a false alarm. People are going to start getting really, really angry about this.
The second reason is a lot more quantifiable. Here’s a poll…
It’s a SurveyMonkey online thing, and it’s not all that scientific, but they applied some demographic screens to the sample in order to improve it…
The survey, which was conducted by SurveyMonkey and then weighted for age, race, sex, education and region to match U.S. Census data, found that 58 percent of Americans want a ban on incoming flights from West African countries hardest hit by the virus, such as Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Twenty percent of respondents opposed a travel ban, and the rest said they didn’t know. The survey was conducted a day before the first person diagnosed with Ebola inside the U.S. died Wednesday.
The survey found that 51 percent of respondents said they were worried there would be an Ebola outbreak in the United States, and 30 percent worried they or someone in their family would be exposed to the virus.
By an almost 2-1 margin, those surveyed disapproved of sending U.S. troops overseas to help contain the outbreak.
Most Americans surveyed said they did have an accurate understanding of how the deadly disease is spread, with 72 percent correctly answering that it is communicated through bodily fluids.
“People actually have to have a decent understanding in how you contract Ebola. Only 10 percent said through the air, and 15 percent said through the skin,” said John Lapinksi, an associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, who is also director of elections at NBC News and was part of a team of academics who weighted the survey results. “The knowledge [result] is not trivial.”
When there is an issue you can jump on in which you’re on the side three times larger than the opponent’s is, you jump on that issue. 3-to-1 issues are absolute gold three weeks out from Election Day, and Ebola is all anybody is talking about.
Not to mention that Dr. Thomas Frieden, the man running CDC whose head is being demanded at present, penned an incredibly unconvincing piece at Fox News defending the decision not to impose a travel ban. It really must be read, because if you have faith in CDC after hearing the reasoning Frieden offers you’re an incurable optimist.
Importantly, isolating countries won’t keep Ebola contained and away from American shores. Paradoxically, it will increase the risk that Ebola will spread in those countries and to other countries, and that we will have more patients who develop Ebola in the U.S.
Nobody believes that. Nobody. The polls show it. You can have military flights into those countries to handle whatever supplies they need; we just don’t need to make it easy for Thomas Eric Duncans to hop on commercial flights to come here. That’s what a travel ban does. It keeps the chances of a widespread Ebola outbreak low. You keep letting 150 people a day come into the country on commercial flights from Ebola-affected countries, and you might have multiple Thomas Eric Duncans all over the country.
And just like Duncan, they might well not be symptomatic when they get off the plane to America. What’s more, they might well also be lying or mistaken when they tell the screeners they haven’t been exposed to Ebola.
If you want to see a nice side-by-side comparison of the arguments against and for the travel ban, read Mark Krikorian’s savage beatdown of Frieden’s op-ed at National Review here.
And no, the travel ban is not racist. It’s not a permanent travel ban; it’s only until the outbreak comes under control. Nobody is saying that we evacuate West Africa and nuke it to kill the Ebola virus; this is mere prudence and common sense that would be completely unobjectionable without the poison of political correctness.
The travel ban is good policy, and because everybody knows it it’s also excellent politics. And because Ebola is the issue everyone is talking about three weeks before Election Day, pushing the travel ban is the single best political move Republicans can make right now. They need to make it before the Democrats make the decision to abandon Obama and rob them of that issue.