NEWS AND OPINION:
Much of the nation is in agreement with the GOP’s call for temporary travel restrictions and stricter entry regulations when it comes to West African nations now burdened with Ebola and its management. Why, it seems like just yesterday that Republicans were getting blamed for Ebola by members of the Obama administration, select Democrats and noisy progressives who broadly cited “budget cuts” as their rationale. Time and the public narrative quickly marched on, however. Pollsters have gauged citizen sentiment on the situation, and their findings suggest that big majorities favor GOP prudence about Ebola — voiced by, among many others, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Rep. Trey Gowdy and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there:
Ninety-one percent of Americans favor stricter screening for people traveling to the U.S. from West Africa; 66 percent support a flight ban (Washington Post/ABC News Poll released Oct. 14); 89 percent favor stricter screening of travelers inbound from affected areas (Harris/Health Day poll released Oct. 10); 79 percent would avoid international travel if an Ebola outbreak occurred in the U.S. (Reuters/Ipsos poll released Oct. 16); 72 percent favor a quarantine of travelers from affected areas; 56 do not approve their entry into the U.S. (The Economist YouGov poll released Oct. 15).
“The biggest mistake that continues to be made is now, more than two weeks into this, we continue to allow open commercial air flights from countries that have been stricken by Ebola. That doesn’t make any sense. We have upwards of 150 people a day coming from countries with live, active Ebola outbreaks,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, cautioned during a Sunday appearance on CNN.
MOTIVATED: CONSERVATIVE STALWARTS
Conservatives are twice as likely as their liberal counterparts to go to the polls on Nov. 4. No, really. “Although overall turnout among the public is likely to be around 40 percent, 73 percent of those who hold consistently conservative attitudes are likely to vote in the midterm, as are 52 percent of those with mostly conservative views,” reports the Americans Trends Panel, a new gauge of the upcoming midterm elections from the indefatigable Pew Research Center.
“Voters on the left are less politically engaged this election: 58 percent of those with consistently liberal views and just 32 percent of those with mostly liberal attitudes are likely to turn out,” the research says. The survey of more than 3,100 Americans also finds vexed Republicans to be particularly motivated.
“Hostility toward the opposing party is a key marker of polarization and a strong motivator for voting,” the analysis says, noting that 65 percent of Republicans with a very unfavorable view of the Democratic Party in the current survey are likely to vote. Forty-nine percent of Democrats who have reciprocal feelings about the GOP are also likely to vote.
“Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe”
— A daylong symposium on Monday in the nation’s capital organized by the American Civil Liberties Union, described by organizers as the first time transgender military personnel “will convene on U.S. soil to share lessons learned and best practices for open and inclusive military service.” The event features policy experts and ministry officials from the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. The organizers also say the event will review policies in seven countries that “allow transgender individuals to serve.”
DIAGNOSIS: DWINDLING CONFIDENCE
“President Obama, despite his efforts, is losing the confidence of the nation over his handling of Ebola,” says pollster John Zogby in his weekly White House assessment, who says that despite President Obama’s new measures on the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is starting to resemble the Federal Emergency Management Agency during Hurricane Katrina.
Yes, it is hard to manage multiple crises with minute-by-minute coverage and rumor — but again the president was off message. The dominant theme is that Americans are scared. Whether they like Obama or not, confidence in the captain of the ship is not there,” Mr. Zogby says.
His current grade for Mr. Obama: D-minus.
PANACEA: JUST TELL THE TRUTH
OK, so the nation is caught between imperfect media coverage of Ebola and political argument over its threat. So they look to — let’s see, now — a leader for guidance as concern about the disease escalates.
“Americans’ fear is only growing, and one reason is that too few people believe what the president of the United States says anymore,” points out Carl M. Cannon, a historian and Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics, who adds, “The president’s credibility has taken a hit at the precise time when a medical crisis confronts the country and when placing trust in the men and women running this government is a life-and-death question.”
The panacea? He cites the straightforward practices of George Washington, who didn’t lie much in his time, or in the 20,000 pieces of personal correspondence he left behind.
“Modern politics allows for a lot of leeway when it comes to truth-telling, and the rewards for deliberately misleading voters can include victory at the ballot box. But presidential prevarication, as we keep relearning, has a high cost — to the president’s reputation and the nation’s health,” Mr. Cannon observes.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Behold, it’s the “Ebola Plush Toy,” priced at $9.95” — described as the “T-Rex of microbes” by Giant Microbes, an educational toy and gag gift manufacturer that advises buyers to “learn all about this front-page disease.” The company also makes 149 other microscopic “plushies,” including anthrax, herpes and plague varieties. Ebola, which is available as a fuzzy handheld toy, a giant 2-foot version or curled up in a fake petri dish, is a big seller at the moment.
“We are currently out of stock worldwide,” spokeswoman Laura Sullivan tells CNBC, adding, “We’re getting more in next week.”
AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO
“What happened to art being loved and appreciated and never censored?”
— California artist Sabo, on learning his “Hillary 2016” posters emblazoned with “Wizard of Oz” flying monkeys had been removed from Los Angeles streets before Hillary Clinton‘s elite and expensive fundraiser in the Brentwood section of town on Monday, to The Hollywood Reporter
POLL DU JOUR
• 21 percent of Republicans would vote for Mitt Romney if the 2016 presidential primary was held today; 17 percent of self-described “very conservative” voters and 24 percent of independents agree.
• 8 percent of Republicans overall would vote for Mike Huckabee; 8 percent of the very conservative and 14 percent of independents agree.
• 8 percent of Republicans would vote for Sen. Marco Rubio; 8 percent of the very conservative and 4 percent of independents agree.
• 7 percent of Republicans would vote for Rand Paul; 8 percent of the very conservative and 10 percent of independents agree.
• 5 percent would vote for Ben Carson; 9 percent of the very conservative and 5 percent of independents agree.
• 3 percent would vote for Sen. Ted Cruz; 4 percent of the very conservative and 4 percent of independents agree.
Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,006 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 9-12.
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