Why would President Obama appoint someone to the newly formed position of “Ebola czar” who doesn’t know Ebola from Shinola? Clearly, it was a considered judgment on behalf of the president and his team. So why would they do something that would so obviously be subject to criticism and do little to calm the frenzy? Remember, this administration is often all about optics. They probably think they already have plenty of good people working on combating the Ebola epidemic, with plans in place that will either work or they won’t. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume the White House doesn’t think it has an Ebola problem so much as it knows it has a political problem.

I figure what the White House really wants is for Ron Klain to step into the role as a communications strategist and political enforcer. His job is to figure out who is saying what to whom and to put everybody on a short leash. He will need to keep Hill allies — and adversaries — placated with talking points and spin, keep national security adviser Susan Rice off the Sunday shows and hope for the best as far as the spread of the virus goes. Klain can’t really be expected to do anything about the actual Ebola infection.

I assume the reason Ron Klain isn’t reporting directly to President Obama is that, if things don’t go well, the president will still have a measure of soothing deniability. Can’t you already hear the White House’s allies whispering about how Klain didn’t really work for the president? If Ebola does start to spread in America and they need a real czar – a doctor, a general, a governor, etc. – they have preserved that option.

If you want to appoint someone to help stop the spread of a lethal contagion, you would never think of Klain. But if you want to contain the Ebola episode so it stays as quiet as possible until after the election, he is the right guy for the job. Good luck to us all.

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