Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Right-wingers criticize President Obama for not imposing tough restrictions on people seeking to come to the U.S. from Ebola-stricken countries. But what if Obama's first response to Ebola fears had been exactly what conservatives are demanding?

I think they'd be denouncing the very policies they're now supporting.

Right-wingers hate Obama. To them, by definition, everything he does is wrong. Why would a tough policy from his administration -- a flight ban, or exclusion of those with West African visas, or mandatory quarantines even for the asymptomatic -- have been any different?

If he'd responded with tough policies, I think I know what would have happened. Recall that the first Ebola patient in America was Dr. Kent Brantly, a volunteer for Samaritan's Purse, a charity whose president is Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son. The next Ebola patient in the U.S. was Nancy Writebol, a missionary with Samaritan's Purse.

Graham was disinvited from the National Prayer Breakfast in 2010 after a series of anti-Islam statements over a number of years (for instance, calling Islam "a very evil and wicked religion"). He's questioned whether Obama is really a Christian. He's claimed that the IRS targeted Samaritan's Purse as part of a crackdown on conservative group. Earlier this year, he said that members of the Obama administration "are anti-Christ in what they say and what they do."

So imagine if President Obama had decided to prevent the return of Brantly and Writebol to America. Imagine if he'd imposed strict rules on travel into America by those who live or have worked in Ebola-stricken countries.

The right-wing noise machine, which carefully calibrates a negative message in response to everything Obama says and does, would have said that the policy was directed at an Evangelical enemy of the president. We would have been told that it was part of the president's "war on Christianity." Even now, thanks to right-wing propaganda, the face of Ebola volunteerism wouldn't be what it is now -- a hipster doctor gallivanting in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood, a nurse who's a registered Democrat. Instead, Fox News wold be flooded with images of noble Christian volunteers lamenting the fact that Obama won't let them come home for Christmas. (Christmas!)

Instead of portraying the federal government as a collection of bumblers, the right would portray it as the instrument of big-government totalitarianism. Oh, but it would be selective totalitarianism -- Obama won't seal the Mexican border, but he's turning away Christian missionaries who were born here.

I can't prove that this is what would have happened. But I've watched the right for two long to be in any doubt: nothing Obama did about Ebola would have satisfied them.


Victor said...

Thanks, Steve - I didn't know that about that doctor and nurse.

And of course you're right.

As I've said countless times, if Obama could raise the dead, they'd call him a showoff; and if he could walk on water, they'd say that that N*gger was too lazy to learn how to swim.

Tom Hilton said...

I don't have anything to add to this, except that it's exactly right.

mlbxxxxxx said...

This is obviously true about this situation and every other issue we've faced and it is the source of so much frustration. They were, and are, going to hate him no matter what he did or does, so why not swing for the fences? Yeah, I know the realities of the politics within our own party were responsible for any reticence that was not his own -- I don't think Obama ever was, or is, a huge liberal -- and that is yet another source of frustration. Feels like we're going to be eternally mired in mediocrity as long as the Dems continue like this. We have one party whose identity is crystal clear and the other is an amorphous blob. A lot of the party establishment apparently think that is a feature, not a bug. The Democratic Party needs to find itself. I don't think we can sit back and hope for demographic advantages to save our democracy.

Anonymous said...

Like that joke about the economist and the $5 bill, if the Democratic Party knew how to find itself, it'd have done so by now. There's no "itself" to find. There's just a mishmash of tactics and stances. A party that spoke forthrightly about populism and minority rights would be rousing to half the population in half the country and would get obliterated in the other half.

Glennis said...

Actually, it makes it easier for Obama to make decisions. He doesn't have to ponder whether the Republicans will accept what he does, he already knows they'll hate it.

Regarding the nurse & doctor for Samaritans purse - I have no idea what their politics are, but I have heard nothing but good things about them. So even though Franklin Graham is a charlatan, let's please not discount these two health professionals' bravery and self-sacrifice for having worked with Ebola patients.

gocart mozart said...

"I can't prove that this is what would have happened."

I can't prove that the sun will rise tomorrow as it has done everyday these past 4 billion + years but if I were a betting man ...

Ken_L said...

Conservatives have all yelled about the need to be "prudent" - sure maybe the risk is not all that great but the potential harm is enormous so wouldn't it be sensible to treat Ebola as a crisis and take all sorts of preventive measures, just in case?

Oddly, this is precisely the line of reasoning they have consistently ridiculed and rejected with respect to global warming. As you say, they simply choose to adopt positions that are the opposite of those they attribute to liberals in general and Obama in particular.