Clueless in Washington: President Bush’s statements regarding bird flu Tuesday displayed a complete lack of understanding of the disease, it pandemic potential or how best to meet the imminent threat of the virus spreading to the United States.
Like his reaction to everything else (global terrorism, for instance), Bush plays the military card, saying he would use the army to forcibly isolate anyone suspected of having the avian flu virus. Suddenly, the concept of “enemy combatants” has been expanded to “enemy infectants.”
One of the problems with Bush’s approach (and there are many) is that avian flu is extremely difficult to diagnose. Its symptoms mirror pneumonia and other respiratory virus infections, and it requires a series of complex laboratory tests to definitively determine the presence of the H5N1 virus. To suggest that a kid in a uniform with an M-16 should be charged with making a correct off-the-cuff diagnosis of a person exiting an airplane with a cough and runny nose is simply preposterous.
A more measured and less alarming response would be to call for an increase in antiviral vaccine production and to begin to stockpile that vaccine in advance of the spread of the virus — not to go immediately to the military option.
Once again, Bush has demonstrated a brain-dead inability to respond to a complex problem in any manner other than point a gun at it and pull the trigger.
The danger here is that, instead of killing 2,000 American soldiers and 125,000 Iraqis, Bush’s pathetic stupidity could result in the deaths of millions of Americans.