John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Playing Politics With Ebola

Posted on October 14, 2014
President Barack Obama.jpg

"President Barack Obama" by Official White House Photo by Pete Souza - P120612PS-0463 (direct link). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Democrats are trying to tie Ebola to the Republicans.

This is a political season so this is not surprising.

The theory goes that because Republicans want to cut spending, they have cut critical resources that could have gone to pay for an Ebola vaccine.

The NIH Director even directly said that if it weren’t for budget cuts, we wouldn’t be having this Ebola problem.

Democrats more broadly have been blaming the sequester on Republicans, and they are making the point that if there was no sequester, there would have been ample resources to combat Ebola.

There are several problems with this theory.

First, the sequester was Obama’s idea.  He pushed it because he didn’t want to make entitlement cuts.

Second, the President never asked directly for an Ebola “supplemental” or anything close to it.  Had he said:  “I need two billion dollars to deal with Ebola,” he would have some ground to stand on.

But he could never quite tear himself away from the golf course to spend any time worrying about Ebola.  He never requested a supplemental to pay for Ebola spending.  He never asked Congress for any help on Ebola.

Third, the Republicans wanted to cut spending because the President, when the Democrats controlled the Congress, went on a spending binge, which squandered a trillion dollars of taxpayer money.  Remember Solyndra?

There is no evidence that part of the President’s stimulus package included an Ebola-fighting initiative.

In fact, when Republicans took over in 2010, Ebola was but a faint rumor of impending doom, the stuff of horror movies.

That being said, nothing changes minds quicker than a devastating virus that causes people to bleed through their eyes and noses.

You want to see civil liberties being curtailed?   Wait until another nurse comes down with Ebola.

You want to see flights shut down between Africa and America?

You want see our borders be really sealed tight?

We are entering the panic zone here folks.

And nobody is making the case that President Obama is showing any great leadership traits here.

If anything, the President is getting the blame for not doing enough.

I can see why the Democrats would want to shift blame to the Republicans.  They see the President’s approval ratings and they know that he is getting blamed for a wide variety of ills (including Ebola), and they also know that if he gets the blame, they get the blame.

But this is not the kind of crisis where it makes sense politically to try to play politics with it. Instead of blaming other people, the President needs to implement a plan that will reassure a jittery public and contain the virus once and for all.

Do you have any confidence that Mr. Obama will implement any such plan?

I don’t either.