By Michael Goodwin
Chalk it up to karma, fate or bad luck. Whatever you call it, the Ebola scare is proof that Bad Things Happen to Bad Presidents.
The morphing of what is a single case into near panic is, according to medical experts, unwarranted. They point out that, so far, one person from Liberia died in a Texas hospital and two nurses who treated him got sick. Period, end of panic.
In rational and medical terms, they may be right. But their calculations omit another factor. It’s the X factor.
In this case, X stands for trust.
President Obama has spent six years squandering it, and the administration’s confusion, contradictions and mistakes on Ebola fit the pattern. This is how he rolls.
Don’t worry, there’s no chance of an outbreak, they said. Then it was, Oops, we must rethink all procedures for handling cases. Then there was no worry about a “wide” outbreak, yet quarantines for lots of people.
The irrational fear of an alien pathogen is fueled by rational suspicion of an incompetent and dishonest government. How did the so-called experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give Nurse No. 2 permission to travel by air, even though she had a mild fever?
That’s a great question — if only the CDC would answer it. “I have not seen the transcript of the conversation,” was Director Thomas Frieden’s lame answer.
Meanwhile, the most obvious move, a travel ban from affected countries, is rejected with unpersuasive claims about the need to get aid workers to Africa. It looks and smells like political correctness searching for logic.
There isn’t any logic, so bet your hazmat suit a ban will happen soon. It’ll be one way for the new Ebola czar to make a mark.
But it will take a miracle worker to restore Barack Obama’s credibility. While there are many things to say about his tenure, the one thing you cannot say is that the nation trusts him.
Poll after poll, on subject after subject, show a collapse. Consistently now, a majority of Americans say Obama is not trustworthy. Most think he’s a failure, many say he is incompetent and the vast bulk — 70 percent in some cases — says his key policies are wrong for America.
He is so unpopular that members of his own party don’t want to be seen with him, lest his failures spawn a political plague.
Against that backdrop, any emergency will cause the national yips. The rise of the Islamic State and its beheadings of two Americans did it, and now Ebola is doing it.
As “Ghostbusters” asked, who you gonna call? Certainly not this White House.
Credibility is like a reservoir or a bank account. You make deposits in good times so you can make withdrawals when you need them.
Obama never made the deposits. It’s been all downhill since Day One. He blames others for failures, and when cornered or ambitious, reaches for a lie. Routinely.
The claim that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” is a defining example, but hardly the only one. Don’t forget “shovel-ready jobs” to justify a trillion-dollar boondoggle. Or there’s “not a smidgen” of corruption at the IRS. And Benghazi was caused by an anti-Muslim video.
His lies are legion and now he’s like the boy who cried wolf. When he makes a national appeal on Ebola, the trust tank is empty.
If there’s one encouraging sign, it’s that Obama may sense he’s walking on thin ice. When Ebola started to dominate the news, he canceled two fund-raising trips.
Talk about miracles.