The Hysteria Factor: Obama and the Swine Flu

In the past week, the cable talk lunatics have turned their attention to the swine flu conspiracy. Their newest storyline is that Obama is going to use the flu season threat to authorize a forceful entry into people's homes to administer vaccines. As you might imagine, all those delusional "We the People" town hall patriots now have another reason to arm themselves. Nothing like a good pandemic to bring the villagers out with their pitchforks. Another variation of the Obama swine flu conspiracy is that U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is using swine flu hype to distract the terrified villagers while Obama promotes health care reform.

For the past eight years, we have seen how successfully the hysteria factor works. After 9-11, "W" kept the terrorist danger meter burning bright red to take America's focus off issues like war, a floundering economy, and domestic spying. It worked well. But it wasn't just the terrorist meter that helped America lose their good sense. It was also the Bird Flu epidemic that supposedly was threatening our democracy. And remember the hyped up 2003 SARS pandemic that arrived just in time to get our minds off the fact that the Iraq WMD scare was a hoax? Then there was the Anthrax scare promoted by the "W" gang. It terrified our most impressionable crowd to the point that some homemakers were out buying gas masks and chemical protective suits. "W" had middle America so terrified that 20 thousand Americans were taking the medicine Cipro. "W" was always crying wolf. But don't forget that in the end of that children's story, there really was a wolf who ate all the sheep and gobbled up the goofy little boy who loved to scare the villagers.

Because of that, Napolitano can't afford to understate the seriousness of the swine flu, even though America has been abused by politically motivated scare tactics for eight years. The truth is that H1N1 is a legitimate public health concern. It is more likely to cause illness in healthy young people than in an even a less healthy, elderly population. That is not a typical scenario for a flu virus. It is still mutating and is now showing signs possibly of being transmitted to other animals besides pigs. It is more contagious than most flus, and it spreads rapidly. Because of the way it effects the respiratory system, it is probable that the need for hospitalization will be greater than what we see with a typical seasonal flu. Napolitano cannot afford to show the Katrina caliber of unpreparedness and incompetence that we grew accustomed to with the "W" gang.

The pitchfork villager crazies naturally will create political hysteria around this issue. Terrified Americans will stockpile TamaFlu and surgical masks. The survivalist crowd will restock their survival bunkers.

But I'm sure Napolitano's hope is that the rest of us simply get vaccinated and wash our hands regularly; show common sense by keeping our kids out of school when they are ill and isolate ourselves when we show symptoms.

But above all else, stay as far away as possible from that village clown car infected with "crazy" as it pulls into town.