The Ebola virus is the best thing to happen to American politicians in years. Ebola has done what neither war, climate change, nor economic meltdown have accomplished. It has united our politicians in action because Ebola is bad. Ebola threatens America. It came dangerously close to infecting a King Charles Spaniel in Texas. Like that nerd in grade school who always raises his hand, no one likes the Ebola virus. Our political leaders have come out bravely against Ebola and it's their intention to prosecute the virus as an adult.
From New York to Florida, California, Illinois and states in between, an accidental alliance of Republicans and Democrats has joined against Ebola. Many states are requiring a 21-day quarantine for health workers returning from West Africa, even if they have no signs of illness. New Jersey's Chris Christie, whose administration once quarantined several lanes of the George Washington Bridge against an exodus of commuters said, "We've taken this action and I have absolutely no second thoughts about it." He's showing leadership, decisiveness. He doesn't look back. He's also considering running for president. "Chris Christie. He was against Ebola."
The other day when a New York City doctor tested positive for Ebola, the governor and the mayor appeared before cameras to promise action. Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "We want to state at the outset that there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," even though one of the few occasions the mayor of New York and the governor hold a joint press conference is when New Yorkers should be alarmed. Alarm is good. Voters unite around politicians who tell you to be alarmed.
In a silly attempt to stand up for reason, the Centers for Disease control and various medical authorities say these quarantines may actually hinder the Ebola fight and are not medically necessary, which shows what they know. Governors know best what's good for their state.
Chris Christie isolated a nurse after she got off a plane in Newark and tested negative for Ebola. When the nurse Kaci Hickox was sent home to Maine and broke her quarantine, Gov. Paul LePage got really lucky. A state judge set Hickox free. LePage was able to stand up and say, "As governor, I have done everything I can to protect the health and safety of Mainers." Who couldn't vote for that?
The governor of Connecticut also signed an order to quarantine anyone who may have been exposed to Ebola. Connecticut has not had a case of Ebola, let alone an Ebola death, and Gov. Dan Malloy is going to make sure they never do. He's in charge. He's looking out for the average Joe Nutmeg. This is the same state where a man with a gun massacred 20 school children and six adults. But it's hard to quarantine people with guns. The National Rifle association gets so testy about it. It's much easier to quarantine people who don't have Ebola.
Every year guns kill 32,000 Americans, more than six times the number of people who have died of Ebola in the current outbreak. So far we've had only two homegrown Ebola infections in the U.S. and just one death of a man who arrived with the disease. The effect of Ebola on America is less than your average two-car accident, but that's what's great about this disease. It's so small it's easy for a gang of politicians to box it into a corner and stomp on it.
In Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal forcefully called for a ban on all direct air flights from Ebola-stricken countries to the U.S., even though there are none. But in the meantime Jindal's state quarantine is preventing Ebola specialists who've been in West Africa from attending a New Orleans medical meeting to discuss how to treat and cure Ebola. If they had come, they would have had to spend 21-days sitting alone in a hotel room. Jindal, who likes to think of himself as having presidential mettle, is so tough on Ebola, he'll quarantine even the scientists thinking about Ebola. That's the kind of action we've come to expect from our politicians.