In attacking the Obama administration’s response to the swine flu outbreak, “Brownie” reveals more about the past administration than the current one:
I think they want to raise this level because that gives them more attention, it gives them more, you know, more legitimacy, and allows them to get out there and say ?oh look at us, we?re in control we’ve got this thing taken care of.? It legitimizes what they?re doing.
For eight years, the Bush team tried desperately to make everything seem like a crisis, hoping that fear would keep them in power. The Obama administration has been calm and straightforward, reacting speedily to crises without trying to panic everyone. In his “100 Days” presser, the president struck the perfect tone of concern, expressing the government’s urgency without panicking anyone. He started by listing the government’s actions, stressing “this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations,” and describing his request for more funding for public health preparations. But he capped it with simple instructions:
And finally, I?ve asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: Keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you?re sick; and keep your children home from school if they?re sick.
We?ll continue to provide regular updates to the American people as we receive more information, and everyone should rest assured that this government is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus.
This is a far cry from Tom Ridge’s recommendations to stockpile duct tape against nonexistent WMD threats. But Brownie, trained in the Ridge/Bush school of politics, sees the same desire to twist public crisis for political gain behind every action. Eventually, he and other Republicans will figure out that there’s a new boss, and a new way to do business.