President Barack Obama talks with Texas Gov. Rick Perry as they travel aboard Marine One from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas, July 9, 2014.
Just when everything was going right for Texas Gov. Rick Perry—from his new glasses
to romantic armed strolls
with Sean Hannity to being under indictment
—along comes this
to put a wrinkle in his aspiration to be the GOP's 2016 presidential nominee:
For once, President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are on the same page. At separate briefings on the Ebola crisis, Obama administration officials and Perry have delivered the same message: Don’t panic — the health authorities know what they’re doing.
But for other Republicans — and conservative media outlets — it’s time for panic.
While Perry is stuck sending the same message as the president, the rest of the GOP field is free to stoke panic, with Sen. Rand Paul suggesting that "a whole ship full of our soldiers" helping control the outbreak in West Africa might "catch Ebola" due to close living quarters and both Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal proposing travel bans "to protect our people." Meanwhile, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee even tied
the Ebola outbreak to Benghazi, the IRS "scandal," and Obamacare, saying:
I'm just sick of a government that I'm paying for telling me not to worry and just trust them. I wish I could, but if they repeatedly lie to me I just don't believe them anymore.
It is against this backdrop of fearmongering that Perry is offering his measured assessment of the situation writes Jonathan Cohn
"There are few places in the world better equipped to meet the challenge that is posed in this case. ... The public should have every confidence that the highly trained professionals involved here will succeed in this very important mission.”
Fortunately, as Cohn notes, this is one case where Rick Perry is right. Rather than panic, we should consider our good fortune to live in a country that can contain the spread of Ebola, unlike the West African countries currently in crisis. Rather than follow the misguided advice of 2016ers to freak out and close the borders, we should continue to actively engage in efforts to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, not for some some political reason, but because
it's the smart thing to do:
No travel ban or quarantine will seal a country completely. Even if travel could be reduced by eighty per cent—itself a feat—models predict that new transmissions would be delayed only a few weeks. Worse, it would only drive an increase in the number of cases at the source. Health-care workers who have fallen ill would not be able to get out for treatment, and the international health personnel needed to quell the outbreak would no longer be able to go in. The local economy and health infrastructure would further collapse, causing a far wider spread of the disease.
For 2016ers who have no actual role to play in dealing with Ebola, it's easy to propose a sealed border as the solution to Ebola and everything else and to deride your critics as hopeless humanitarians. But humanitarian concerns aren't the only reason they're wrong: They're wrong because their plan won't work.