|The President with his new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain|
So we can all thank heaven for Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (no, not just that he is retiring), who helpfully asked Frieden in a congressional hearing this Thursday: "It seems to me you're saying 'We wanna monitor people before they leave those countries [Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone] to see whether they have this infection, and then we wanna monitor them when they come into [this country] to see whether they have this infection.' Is that what you're proposing?" Frieden: "That's what we're actually doing."
Yeah, that worked pretty well with America's Patient Zero, Thomas Duncan, in Texas, who was sent home with Aspirin from Presbyterian Hospital even though he told the ER staff he had just come from Liberia. Uh, maybe the CDC was better off not explaining after all. Knowing how bad Waxman/Frieden sounded, Obama finally appointed a so-called Ebola Czar, and the Progressive blogosphere rode to the rescue. It may be a tall order to convince Americans we should allow 300-500 people per day from those countries to enter five American airports, but the Huffington Post, Nat-Geo and Vox are all up to the challenge.
The most ambitious, not to say persuasive, defense was entitled "Why Travel Bans Will Only Make The Ebola Epidemic Worse." Authors Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman offered three reasons: 1- Airport screening is political theater (oddly pointing out how it failed with SARS and has already failed in Dallas); 2- Closing borders would be a disaster (a Straw Man argument from start to finish); 3- The best way to protect Americans is by protecting West Africans (which American troops and doctors are already doing).
Stop screening at airports? Evidently it's ineffectual and takes away "scarce resources" from other more fruitful efforts. I actually agree with this point, finding Waxman/Frieden particularly unconvincing about running airport screening in Africa. But if we do stop screening, we most definitely can not keep allowing Liberians in. Even the few Americans who have never dealt with the TSA know screening at airports won't work because it has already been demonstrated a failure in this crisis.
Closing borders would be a disaster? For whom? Not Senegal, which borders Guinea, and had one guy sneak across with Ebola. The Senegalese quarantined him, and militarily "sealed" their border. Three weeks later their country is virus-free. But this "Closing Borders" meme is a classic Straw Man argument, because no Republican is proposing to close any border anywhere--Senegalese success notwithstanding. What has been proposed is temporarily restricting certain people from access to the USA. We need to announce that we will deny entry to anybody with a passport from those countries (or other nationals, including Americans, who have visa stamps from those countries). Let's take those "scarce resources" and set up 21-day quarantine centers at the five American airports to hold folks who ignore the travel ban. Our military and doctors who are over there are already prepared for a 3-week quarantine before returning home.
And finally we come to "reason" three: the Best Way to Protect America is by protecting West Africa. Please. This is a tautology on the level of Kittens Are Cute. Of course earth's Pinnacle Nation should help fight Ebola, and we are fighting it over there already. But temporarily restricting entry to our homeland by Liberians, Sierra Leonese and Guineans would not materially hamper our ability to "protect" West Africa. And, in fact, the authors seem to know America can chew-gum-and-walk at the same time...not even mentioning travel bans in their earnest four-paragraph proposal for "the best way to avoid more cases in America."
I can only speculate on Obama's real reasons for wanting to keep the American borders open, because these three are un-serious to the point of being cynical. I assume he is sticking to his long-held ideology even in the face of the world's deadliest infectious disease. It is now clear that not even the health and safety of the American people is as important to him as his perverse notions of Social Justice. And so the real American victim in this whole episode is trust: because of Obama's obfuscation, misdirection and dismissiveness U.S. citizens now have even less faith in their government.