No explanation offered by the White House or the CDC about our refusal to impose a travel ban on Liberian or other visitors from affected west African countries to the United States makes sense, or so it seems to me. Indeed, what has been said (again, so it seems to me) ranges from the nonsensical to the absurd, from BS to balderdash. If a travel ban would serve to protect American citizens and institutions, however imperfectly, what is the rationale for refusing to impose one?
The refusal seems obviously to be driven by a brand of politics that verges on the insane. Thus the reticence of the White House to expose its true train of thought to public view.
In his testimony before a House panel today, CDC honcho Tom Frieden tread lightly in response to questions by Rep. Steve Scalise on conversations with the White House. Lest there be any doubt that the refusal to impose a travel ban is a function of politics driven by the White House, check out the video below. As Glenn Reynolds translates Dr. Frieden’s evasions: “So that’s a yes, then.”
UPDATE: George Mason University Law School Assistant Dean Richard Kelsey has issued the following statement (which I have slightly edited and reformatted):
One has to wonder…why Mr. Obama refuses to use the administrative state he controls to protect Americans. Where’s the pen? Mr. Obama used his pen to give amnesty to illegal aliens. He has directed his administrative state to tighten EPA regulations. He has attempted to sidestep the Senate on treaty authority with respect to climate change. He has done things with that pen that are simply unconstitutional.
His principal duty as President is to protect Americans. This President could properly use his powers by making common sense travel bans from Ebola hot spots. For political reasons, he simply, doggedly, and ideologically refuses to do so. The CDC projected that by January, up to 1.5 million cases of Ebola could happen.
Why are we fooling around with this? Our hospitals, nurses, and CDC have shown that they are not ready to handle an outbreak. Indeed, they don’t even know for sure what the right protocols are for handling patients. One rogue Liberian has sent this country into panic and has the CDC tracking hundreds of people in this country, two of whom are infected.
The President rarely uses the law correctly, and even more rarely in aid of the protection of Americans. It is time to ban travel from these hot zones until this President and his CDC can demonstrate that they can competently, and with the confidence of our people, address this virus. That protection does not prevent us from helping in the countries that need it most. That too is in our interest. In order to help, however, we must secure our own interests and safety first. It’s this President’s primary responsibility, and one for which his pen is authorized.
UPDATE by John: Matt Drudge gives the administration’s stubbornness some global context:
Of course, you can’t expect our government to be as competent as Nigeria’s.