Ebola has claimed the lives of some 4,800 West Africans — possibly closer to 15,000, given underreporting. It might also be about to claim Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections and further damage Barack Obama’s presidency.
His failure to impose a travel ban on passengers flying from West African countries with rampant Ebola infection since early 2014 — as two-thirds of Americans want — signals arrogance and incompetence. That deadly combination was on display in President Obama’s pre-election news conference with a bunch of white coats as props showing his sympathy for health care workers such as the nurse with the 101-degree temperature, who, upon arriving at Newark International Airport last week, balked at Gov. Chris Christie’s quarantine. Only days prior, an Ebola-stricken doctor romped far and wide around New York City, just before succumbing, prompting a massive epidemiological search to find whom he might have infected.
The science — and that includes epidemiology — does not support such stringent quarantines, Mr. Obama says.
Except it does.
But for the president’s failure to impose the travel ban, the late Thomas Eric Duncan could never have entered the United States, spreading his Ebola virus to two health care workers. Nor could have patient No. 4, Craig Spencer, the 33-year-old Doctors Without Borders physician from New York, have possibly spread his virus with abandon.
It costs $300,000 per patient to fight the deadly infection — a wormlike virus that kills by attaching itself to the surface of cells, then, once inside, replicates and causes the cells to burst. The subsequent inflammatory effect produces sudden flu-like symptoms, as the infectious particles clobber the immune system and travel to most of the organs and tissues, including the brain, spleen, kidney and liver. At the same time, the virus causes abnormal clotting and bleeding inside the blood vessels, and bleeding into the skin, causing a pervasive red rash. With blood clotting destroyed, internal bleeding results, as well as bleeding from eyes, ears and nose. Without effective treatment, organ failure, together with loss of blood, cause death within 1 to 2 weeks.
That’s the human body’s inevitable reaction to the presence of Ebola. The body politic in the face of Ebola ineptness also has a predictable response. As Peter Finch famously said in his Oscar-winning role in the film “Network,” Americans are “as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”
Usurping governors’ executive powers, Mr. Obama triggered outrage by calling up the National Guard on Oct. 16 to send military personnel to Liberia in addition to the 1,100 U.S. troops already deployed there, with some 1,600 more on the way. They will face a quarantine if they get the virus.
The National Guard’s role in this crisis should be on the Texas border, protecting Americans from the influx of foreigners who could import Ebola should an outbreak occur south of the border, or to prevent it being used as a terrorist weapon to infect large swaths of U.S. citizens.
Mind you, Ebola is not our only border worry. Enterovirus 68 invaded America this year, most likely via roughly 100,000 Central American illegal minors, immune to the disease, accompanied by some 65,000 adults, as they entered the country. It’s the same killer virus, causing severe respiratory illness and swamping emergency rooms nationwide, that claimed the life of young Eli Waller in New Jersey on Sept. 24. He went to bed and was dead by morning — a victim of Mr. Obama’s porous border policy. Rather than screen these illegal minors, the Obama administration immediately distributed them to all 50 states. This polio-like virus also causes paralysis and is strongly suspected in the paralysis of 25 children in California, who today cannot walk, let alone play golf, the president’s favorite pastime.
On Nov. 4, Americans will have the chance to collectively yell through the ballot box, in the words of Peter Finch, we’re “as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” It’s time we throw out the Democratic bums who have been enabling the president’s arrogance and incompetence.
Who knows — maybe some brave soul in the Democratic Party will knock on the president’s door after the election and tell him — as Sen. Hugh Scott told President Nixon — that he no longer has support and the jig is up.
Mary Claire Kendall served as special assistant to the assistant secretary for health in the George H.W. Bush administration.