Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Jeb Bush is boasting that he did a better job during a public health crisis than President Obama is doing now:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is calling President Barack Obama's initial response to Ebola "incompetent."

"It looked very incompetent to begin with, and that fueled fears that may not be justified," Bush said during a discussion at Vanderbilt University, according to The Tennessean. "And now you have states that are legitimately acting on their concerns, creating a lot more confusion than is necessary."

Bush said the president was not "clear and concise" about his plans to combat Ebola, and described an incident in which anthrax was mailed in 2001 to a Florida-based tabloid, The National Enquirer, during his time in office as an example of a better approach to addressing public fears.

"We gave people a sense of calm, what the plan was," Bush said. "We talked in plainspoken English. We were totally engaged."
Ahhh, misty watercolor memories. The truth as reported at the time, in a Toledo Blade story, is that Jeb largely deferred to the administration of his brother the president. Was there "a lot more confusion than is necessary"? Were there "fears that may not be justified"? Here, you be the judge:
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Just over the tops of the gardenia bushes, the elderly woman spotted the culprit: a man in a gas mask - armed with a hose - spraying a strange mist into the air.

Startled, she grabbed her phone and dialed 911.

With police crews rushing to the quiet suburban neighborhood last week - and people drawn to their front doors - the drama was about to begin.

But by the time police cornered the bio-terrorist suspect, the scare was over: The man was wearing a dust mask while sandblasting his backyard pool.

The unfolding outbreak of anthrax at a local tabloid headquarters two weeks ago has thrown this community into a crisis....
Several employees of American Media in Boca Raton were exposed to anthrax in 2001. One died; another became ill but survived. The response to the crisis, as the Toledo Blade story notes, was a mess:
A breakdown in communication between federal and local officials and often changing and inaccurate information released to the public may have led to more panic and mass confusion....

Earlier statements from federal officials assuring citizens the anthrax bacteria that killed Mr. Stevens was naturally occurring, isolated, and unlikely to be sent through the mail, all turned out to be wrong....

Since [Bob] Stevens' death - the nation's first fatality from anthrax since 1976 - another employee at the same tabloid has come down with the disease, and five others have tested positive for exposure....

Federal officials were quick to downplay [Stevens's] diagnosis, saying the anthrax was from nature, and not terrorists. "It appears this is just an isolated case," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson....

U.S. Postal Inspector Del Alvarez assured reporters there was no evidence to show anything was sent through the mail.

By Sunday, Oct. 7, investigators found anthrax spores on the keyboard of Mr. Stevens' computer, and in the nasal passages of Ernesto Blanco a 73-year-old mailroom worker....

Over the next two days, more than 800 people - tabloid employees and recent visitors to the building - stood in the rain and heat, waiting for nose swabs and antibiotics.

On Oct. 10, a third employee, a secretary who handled the mail, was found to have anthrax spores in her nose.

By then, "powder panic," as it's now being called, was spreading faster than the germ.

Hours after the news broke, a post office in neighboring Deerfield Beach was evacuated after a postal employee found a package with strange particles. It turned out to be dust.

People were calling talk-radio shows in the area, urging listeners to stay away from buffets and salad bars....

Last week, the theories of federal officials were shattered when it was revealed that anthrax spores were found in a mail slot of the Boca Raton postal distribution center.

No longer was it only confined to the tabloid headquarters, as Mr. Thompson had been adamantly claiming....
What did Jeb do? Not much, apparently, even as officials at the federal and local level stumbled through their response:
During a visit last week, Gov. Jeb Bush appeared at a press conference about two miles from the tabloid headquarters, urging people to remain calm.

But not everyone was pleased with the way officials had handled the crisis. On the same day as the governor's visit, Congressman [Robert] Wexler visited the area and blasted federal officials for not keeping the community better informed.

He said some of the American Media employees and visitors have been forced to wait more than three days for test results.

And officials still appear to be promoting an atmosphere of silence. Several tabloid employees waiting for a second round of tests last week said they could not comment or they would be fired.

Dr. Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, said she was asked by federal officials not to release information unless investigators approve....
Oh, wait -- as Tommy Christopher notes, Jeb did do one thing:
Gov. Jeb Bush came to South Florida today, urging calm in a community that for weeks has been on the verge of panic about exposures to anthrax.

"I think while people have to be vigilant and they have to be aware to the new realities, they cannot be paralyzed into not traveling, or not going out to a restaurant or not driving down Yamato Drive," the governor said, referring to one of the main thoroughfares here.
Yeah, that's right: he said it was okay for people to travel. Remind me again: what are health officials at the federal level saying now with regard to Ebola?


Anonymous said...

I don't remember Jeb Bush doing diddly-shit during that episode, and I wouldn't have even remembered that Florida was involved if not for the story today describing Bush's peacock strut for how well he did handling something something. One and a half people gained charisma and reputation from 9/11, anthrax, and the Beltway sniper: Giuliani and Dubya Bush. I doubt Jeb Bush did anything other than check his pelican neck for stray crumbs. What an asshole.

mccamj said...

But it doesn't matter what really happened. The people for whose benefit Jeb said it can't remember yesterday. Ask a conservative who was responsible for the federal gov't shutdown. You'll be told it was the Dems who did it.

That'll be the answer 'cause that was the propaganda after the gov't resumed.

Reality no longer matters to these folks.

Victor said...

I can't speak for FL, but in my part of NC, big and small hardware stores ran out of rolls of the large plastic wrap, as people literally wrapped their homes from top to bottom, to keep Anthrax out.

Of course, if that were effective at keeping the Anthrax out, it would also keep the O2 out, and the whole family would have suffocated to death.

Feckin' eedjits...