I have a prediction. This nation's Ebola panic will endure for 18 more days. Our collective fever will break, and miraculously, it will break with uncanny chronological precision: two Wednesdays from next week's, which is to say, November 5; or even more precisely, late the preceding evening, when all the polls have closed. So suggests the reptiles' shadows I've seen here this morning at Political Climatology Forecasting Central.
One of the shadow-casters is none other than George W. Bush's first FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh, who, fully armored in righteous ferment and, it goes without saying, characteristic Bushian proficiency, tells Politico that the Obama administration's response to Ebola! has so far resembled something from the "Keystone Kops." Obama, he continues, is "not showing leadership" in confronting this domestically sinister plague that has affected a mere two out of more than 300 million Americans. Proper leadership, we gather, is the quality not of subduing panic, but caressing it, in part by announcing (against epidemiological advice) easily evaded travel bans on the Black Death.
But here's the dead giveaway that Allbaugh's critique of the administration's response is, at root, a partisan one. In not imposing a travel ban, says Allbaugh, Obama is "making a political decision" and "doing what’s best based on politics," rather than the kind of crack emergency management deployed by the Bush II administration. It's no surprise that, coming from a former Bush adept, this is of course the precise opposite of reality. For the simplest and probably smartest political action Obama could take is to impose a ban. The prohibition might well do more harm than good; but what the hell, to the nation's Allbaughs, politics is always supreme.
There is also this bit of jarring hypocrisy coming from Allbaugh, a conservative champion of ever smaller government and philosophical critic of the federal government's inherent fecklessness: "FEMA has all the emergency safety functions that are operational at a moment’s notice," he tells Politico, and they include the "power to move quickly, to be nimble and to be responsible." Yesterday the federal government was the very picture of inscrutable sloth and bureaucratic stupidity; today it's a model of alertness, nimbleness and accountability.
But, Allbaugh and his Republican friends are only trying to help. Right? Nonetheless, something tells me their most vociferous advice will be concentrated on a calendar basis.