The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Obama still struggling on Ebola

President Obama was illogical and incoherent yesterday in making the case that only military personnel need to be quarantined:

QUESTION: Are you concerned, sir, that there might be some confusion between the quarantine rules used by the military and used by health care workers and by some states?
OBAMA: Well, the military is in a different situation, obviously, because they are, first of all, not treating patients. Second of all, they are not there voluntarily.
It’s part of their mission that’s been assigned to them by their commanders and ultimately by me, the commander in chief. So, we don’t expect to have similar rules for our military as we do for civilians. They are already, by definition, if they’re in the military, under more circumscribed conditions.
When we have volunteers who are taking time out from their families, from their loved ones and so forth to go over there because they have very particular expertise to tackle a very difficult job, we to want make sure that, when they come back, that we are prudent, that we are making sure that they are not at risk themselves or at risk of spreading the disease.
But we don’t want to do things that aren’t based on science and best practices, because, if we do, then we’re just putting another barrier on somebody who’s already doing really important work on our behalf. And that’s not something I think any of us should want to see happen.

His argument is NOT that the science doesn’t support restrictions (why then quarantine military?), but that it is too much of a hassle for civilians and might discourage volunteer health workers. Why isn’t he being honest? Well, it sounds better, I suppose, to say it’s all about science and the Republicans (and Democrats, I guess) objecting are know-nothings. Again, his argument is not based on science (or else the military has gone anti-science, too), but on his subjective determination that dedicated health professionals won’t volunteer if they face a quarantine like the military. Once again the general public should just buck up, according to the president. Where is the Ebola czar by the way?

The American people have had it with his cavalier attitude and frankly think he is ignoring their justifiable fears. If the doctor was right to self-quarantine (but really did not when he was out and about) and the military is right to self-quarantine and the CDC is increasing its own stay-at-home rules, why not include the health workers, too? It is a serious question and deserves a serious answer. Moreover, it’s yet another example of the president playing professor rather than empathizing with the concerns of voters.

That is why governors, especially New Jersey’s Chris Christie, have stepped forward just as Texas Gov. Rick Perry did on the border crisis. The country is starved for leadership and they’ll be happy to find it wherever they can.

The fight, to the dismay of Democrats on the ballot, keeps the focus on his competence and voters dissatisfaction with how most everything operates these days. It is also a reminder how much of an advantage gubernatorial experience will be in the 2016 race. Both Perry and Christie have shown up the president, demonstrating that they can lead. (Where is Hillary Clinton on this by the way?)

For now Obama remains a get-out-the-vote asset . . .  for Republicans and an advertisement for hiring a more experienced president next time around.