If you had asked me six months ago to predict which party would display extreme levels of concern about a deadly pandemic and which party would downplay the risk, I’d have thought you were tossing me a softball question.
Why, yes, yes it is. Hmm, come to think of it I missed the byline here and…
Oh dear. Like an old bus being driven on a rickety mountain road by a driver who has just consumed a handle of Maker’s Mark with a 20-Ambien chaser, I think you can see where this is headed.
A disease that has killed 100,000 Americans — which is approximately 100,000 more than the 2014 Ebola outbreak that Republicans thought President Barack Obama didn’t take seriously enough?
LOL you have to be shitting me. I look forward to the following McArdle columns:
- “Why have Republicans increased the deficit despite their principled opposition to deficits throughout the Obama administration?”
- “Why have Republicans not conducted numerous hearings into Jared Kushner’s use of unsecured cell phones to conduct official business, despite their principled calls for following best practices in information security throughout the 2016 election campaign?”
- “Why did the scary CARAVAN of migrants suddenly disappear from the public discourse on November 7, 2018, despite principled Republican warnings that CARAVANS are coming to kill us all?”
Apologies if she has already written one or more of these columns and I’ve already missed it. Anyway, I have no idea how you can be this big of a mark and have any possessions left to your name by this point. One might also think Trump completely dismantling Obama’s pandemic response team would be something you would take into account when determining whether the Republican reaction to EBOLA was being made in good faith, but sometimes being well paid to write a couple short and completely non-researched columns a week means knowing what questions not to ask.
Sure, this was usually a prelude to complaining that public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were neglecting this vital mission in favor of paternalistic nannying. But given the CDC’s many boneheaded errors over the past six months, conservatives were in a position to score some political points by shouting: “CDC, you had one job!”
Yes, I wonder why Trump is not anxious to make a big issue of the CDC’s incompetence, what could explain it?
Trump turned to Redfield to run the CDC in 2018 when the president’s first choice, Brenda Fitzgerald, abruptly resigned after POLITICO reported that Fitzgerald had traded tobacco stocks while running the agency and had other problematic holdings that were forcing recusals. Redfield was a known commodity to Republicans like Azar and other top officials, who had considered Redfield for a senior health care positionin the George W. Bush administration.
But Redfield was a controversial figure in the research world in the 1980s and 1990s for overselling the effectiveness of a possible AIDS vaccine, and he was panned by reproductive rights supporters and public health experts for advocating abstinence before marriage to stop HIVrather than tactics like providing free condoms. Redfield was an “abysmal choice” to lead the nation’s public health agency, author Laurie Garrett wrote at CNN in 2018. Redfield has said he has since broadened his views.
But of course, mentioning that Trump nominated the head of the CDC who keeps fucking up in ways he has an extensive history of fucking up would be inconvenient for attempts to make a silly point about how government per se is bad. Also, one might want to consider the Reagan’s response to AIDS when considering whether Republicans can be expected to react with laser-focused competence to a pandemic.
I’m talking about the ones who refuse to make even small compromises for public safety, such as wearing a mask — and especially conservatives who complain when store owners exercise their right to require them on store property.
This doesn’t just eviscerate generations’ worth of arguments about public health. It also undercuts a more central claim of conservatism: that big, coercive government programs are unnecessary because private institutions could provide many benefits that we think of as “public goods.” For that to be true, the civic culture would have to be such that individuals are willing to make serious sacrifices for the common good, and especially to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Whatever McArdle thinks conservatism should be, what American conservatism is more like “there must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” That the whiny affluent man-children who constitute the Republican base would treat calls to wear masks that protect other people much more than themselves as tyranny is one of the most predictable things in known human history. My question: when have core Republican voters showed a willingness to sacrifice for the common good? They weren’t even willing to pay higher taxes to destroy Iraq!
One might think that knowing something about American politics would be a prerequisite for this job, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Petri could turn this into a howlingly funny, if mean, satire by changing about a dozen words.