Three cheers for Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He not only ridiculed the Ebola travel plan being pushed by Republican Tim Murphy (and other FNC talking heads) but took a good jab at Congressional failures to mount a constructive response, too. Host Chris Wallace did his best to protect the GOP peep but it was to little avail.
In his introduction, Wallace signaled why Osterholm was probably chosen as a guest: “You say one of the biggest problems is that we have been too confident, too certain in what we have been telling—with what the government has been telling the American people.”
But when he got on Fox News, Osterholm had bigger Ebola fish to fry.
While I’m concerned about what happens in this country, what I’m really concerned about is what happens in Africa, because as long as that infectious disease, forest fire is burning, those embers are going to keep coming around the world, regardless of whether they close borders or not.
First Osterholm smacked down the travel ban idea:
We’ve actually looked at this issue quite closely over the years and you’ve led this program by saying I’m critical about the (U.S.) response, and I am. I would have no problem saying that the thing to do is close the border if we could really protect this country from what’s happening over there.
That’s just not the case. And this is not a partisan issue and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
…The travel ban is a bad idea in part because of the fact that we really don’t effectively stop people from getting into this country and for what? I mean, what I’m talking about here is we’ve had one single case so far in the big picture of what the situation is. Maybe we stop another one and two more. But we do know that travel bans will seriously impact our ability to get people in and out of that area.
Then Osterholm magnificently destroyed the suggestion from Republican Tim Murphy, the other guest, that the Berlin airlift (during World War II) "proves" that a travel ban would not inhibit getting necessary people and supplies into West Africa. Notice how Wallace tried to stop Osterholm as he was making a fool of the Republican congressman. And how Osterholm didn’t allow it.
OSTERHOLM: And, Congressman, with all due respect, I agree with you on the Berlin airlift, but that was all military. If you’re prepared today to give us hundreds of military planes that will fly in and out at will when we need them to move not only material but also people when we move them around, then I’ll say, well, maybe we ought to reconsider this. But I don’t see anybody in Congress –
WALLACE: All right.
OSTERHOLM: …telling us today that we’re going to get hundreds of military planes.
Finally, Wallace fished for Osterholm to suggest that the U.S. response is or will not be adequate to deal with a growing threat of Ebola:
WALLACE: Finally, Mr. Osterholm, you say that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that we are barely at the one-mile mark in our fight against Ebola. I certainly understand that in Africa. But you also say it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Are you saying that about the U.S., too?
Instead, Osterholm blasted Congress and, indirectly, the travel ban idea:
OSTERHOLM: Well, as long as this forest fire is burning in Africa and potentially spreads eastward into some of the larger other cities in Africa, yeah, we’re going to see these sparks flying off. Do I think that we will get it right in the United States, we will handle these cases very effectively, that we will protect health care workers? Yes, I do.
But what I think what we are not talking about is the devastation that this is causing in Africa, not just in human lives, but the actual from a security standpoint. If this moves eastward, as we believe it now might, just by people walking on foot, not being checked at borders or not getting on airplanes, the potential that this has to destabilize all of Africa is huge.
Ask anyone in the intelligence community what that means in terms of potential safe havens for terrorists, et cetera. We have to do more.
And, Congressman, I would love to have you take a look at why are we not seeing more troops on the ground? Why are our supplies not arriving in these affected countries? Why is the rest of the world not responding?
That’s what we need to keep our eye on right now and we need a vaccine. Congressman, I hope you’ll help us get that vaccine, because in the end, that’s the only magic bullet that’s going to stop this whole thing. And that right now rests largely in the hands of the United States.
Wallace ended the discussion.
Watch it below and you’ll see why I’m naming Dr. Michael Osterholm as our latest NewsHounds Top Dog.
Giggles all around.