The word came down a little after 2 p.m. ET that he was going to speak, but no one’s quite sure why. Is he about to prove Bob Goodlatte right by announcing a new policy that certain select non-citizens will be flown to the U.S. for treatment? Or is he going to reiterate the wisdom of yesterday’s new CDC guidelines on quarantine, which would allow people who’ve pricked themselves with a needle used on someone with Ebola to go jogging in the local public park?
Maybe he feels obliged to push back on Chris Christie’s media offensive over the (temporary) quarantining of Kaci Hickox. The White House complained to Christie and Andrew Cuomo this past weekend that the prospect of mandatory quarantines will discourage aid workers from volunteering to go to west Africa, which will cause the epidemic there to spread, which in turn will mean a greater risk of asymptomatic Ebola-infected people slipping through the cracks at airports and entering the U.S. (not to mention many more deaths potentially in Africa itself). Could be that the White House, sensing public support for Christie’s position, feels obliged to explain why it’s wrong. And there’s no harm in doing something that’ll make your base happy one week before a major election: Jon Stewart called Christie a dick last night for his quarantine move, which means this is now CW among young progressives if it wasn’t already. Maybe O’s going to call him a dick too, using whatever euphemism the White House may have for that term. (“Irresponsible”?)
Think Christie, who’s eager to build some conservative bona fides before 2016, will mind being publicly attacked by O over this? Nothing will expunge that burst of chumminess right before the 2012 election, but there’s no harm in the big guy getting on Obama’s bad side with primary season just six months away. Here he is on the Today show this morning emphasizing that he’s standing by his policy in New Jersey. When asked at a campaign stop today what he thinks of Hickox suing him, he said, “Whatever. Get in line.”
Update: The presser’s over and … I’m not sure what the point was beyond a “we’re going to beat this” message. It seems he just wanted to show Americans that he’s taking the problem seriously by holding a presser, even though he didn’t have anything important to say. That in itself is a response to Christie, I suppose.