Via the Corner, once again the White House’s explanation is that a ban would restrict much-needed supplies and health-care workers from countries that desperately need them. And once again, the reply will be: Why not use chartered flights for those supplies and workers? Why not use military flights, now that Obama’s already decided to send troops to west Africa to help contain the outbreak? Ferrying assistance to and from Liberia et al. on planes segregated from the general public would be a fine humanitarian gesture by the feds, and one that’s presumably feasible. Why not?
Democrats in Congress are holding firm against a travel ban right now (apart from a noteworthy few who support it, like Alan Grayson and Kyrsten Sinema) but the politics of their position will only get more radioactive. Here’s where things stand with one man dead and two nurses infected:
Those are the numbers among the general public. When you ask the same questions to people who are following Ebola news “very closely,” support for quarantine and exclusion goes up by 10 points in each case: 82 percent, not 72, support quarantine of all travelers from Ebola countries and 66 percent, not 56, support a travel ban. The number who think the U.S. is doing enough to contain the Ebola outbreak is also rising steadily, from 31 percent who said it wasn’t doing enough in August to 46 percent who said so in early October to 52 percent who said so this week. If, as everyone expects, there are more infections in Texas — or, especially, outside of Texas — those numbers will rise further. Expect to see Democrats flipping over the next two weeks as we inch closer to election day.
That’s the first clip below. The second clip, via CNS, is of CDC chief Tom Frieden explaining that it’s simultaneously true that (a) it’s safe to ride the bus with an Ebola patient, as Obama assured Africans last month, and (b) Ebola patients shouldn’t ride the bus, as the CDC advises. In fact, the question put to him is whether there’s “absolutely no risk” to using public transportation, and he seems to agree. I think the way he rephrases the question explains what he’s trying to say, though: He says you shouldn’t worry about getting the disease by sitting next to someone on the bus, not that there’s “absolutely no risk.” The odds that you’ll end up next to someone who’s not only infected but who’ll sneeze or cough in your face are minuscule — but since they’re not quite zero, someone who has reason to believe they might have the disease should obviously do the prudent thing and avoid mass transit. He’s talking about negligible risk, not “no risk.” As we’ve come to learn, public speaking isn’t this guy’s strong suit.
Update: I think we’ve finally reached the “Frieden must go” stage of this debacle:
— Jan Crawford (@JanCBS) October 15, 2014
Say, where’s Obama’s “Ebola czar” in all of this, anyway?