Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 28, 2009

THEY'RE NOT HANDLING IT WELL.... It's unfortunate that emergencies can sometimes bring out the worst in people. One wants to think that during trying times people will rise to the occasion, which only makes watching the right respond to the swine flu emergency all the more discouraging.

David Weigel, for example, talked to Wendy Wright, the president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America and a prominent leader in the conservative movement, about Kathleen Sebelius' HHS nomination. Wright said, out loud, without joking, that the administration's response to the flu outbreak may be part of a plot to get Sebelius confirmed.

"Some people think that declaring a state of emergency about the flu was a political thing to push the Sebelius nomination through," said Wright. She pointed to news stories that ask whether the slow-walking of the Sebelius choice will hurt the response to the flu. "If there's even a hint that [Department of Homeland Security] is manipulating the health situation to push a political appointee through, well, it almost defies imagination that they'd be willing to that."

Wright said that she'd heard the speculation "on talk radio," and wanted to be skeptical, but "there's too much of a basis in that argument to easily dismiss it."

It's not only Wright who seems to be cracking. Media Matters reported, "Rush Limbaugh claimed that the Obama administration's response to cases of swine flu in the U.S. 'is designed to expand the role and power of governments and schools,' while Glenn Beck said the motivation behind the response 'could be to move [President Obama's] Health and Human Services person into the office rapidly.'"

As twisted as these responses are, digby explained nicely why these conservative leaders are throwing nonsensical tantrums: public health emergencies require robust government responses and people behaving with the greater good in mind. Too many on the right simply can't tolerate such a dynamic.

Public health crises tend to focus the public on the usefulness of things like science, international cooperation, government coordination. You know, the sort of thing that liberals think are necessary. Something like that simply doesn't fit into the conservative worldview. They see all problems and challenges in schoolyard terms of good guys and bad guys. This kind of challenge (like global warming) falls outside the paradigm by which they organize their world. Pandemics, like hurricanes, can't be dealt with by using tough talk and threats. So, they are lost.

For what it's worth, congressional Republicans haven't repeated the bizarre ideas coming from their base, at least not yet, but the emergency has had no effect on the Senate GOP's decision to try to block the Senate from even voting on the president's nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

It's as if they're suffering from a pre-flu mindset.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

up and down vote. Just repeat up and down vote, over and over again. Rub their noses in it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 28, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, congressional Republicans haven't repeated the bizarre ideas coming from their base, at least not yet . . . .

Just wait. Congressional Republicans will present an innovative and substantive proposal to help the country respond to the threat of Swine Flu and potential future pandemics:

Freeze the budgets of HHS and CDC and cut the taxes of people making more than $250,000.


Posted by: SteveT on April 28, 2009 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans come up with ideas that come from their playbook. Setting up a faux crisis is how the Republicans passed legislation to their liking.

Posted by: ML Johnston on April 28, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

It's astonishing, but at the same time unsurprising, how people like Wright, Limbaugh, and Beck are completely unable to view anything outside the prism of their narrow political mindset. I knew some self styled "Marxist-Leninists" and I've known some fundamentalist Christians, and they do the same thing, filtering their consideration of every single issue through their viewpoint. There is some kind of human tendency to find some system that provides what you think is an answer to something, then applying that system to everything. Although it is human, it cannot be the most fruitful way to think.

At least it's entertaining to realize that Wright, Limbaugh, and Beck essentially "think like Maoists!"

Posted by: seriously on April 28, 2009 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's all about the motives of those librul flu viruses, not to mention the fellow-traveling Mexicans...

Posted by: MattF on April 28, 2009 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

Wait till a Conservo has a oress conference backed by Big Pharma- then they'll declare an emergency and everyone can get vaccinated at their corporate labs ( for a small fee of course). I remember in the 70's when we went to our local schools to get SF shots- gov't assisted and provided.

Posted by: johnnymags on April 28, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

"If there's even a hint that [pentagon, white house] is manipulating the health situation (intelligence) to push a political appointee (war with Iraq) through, well, it almost defies imagination that they'd be willing to that."

this is what they think
because this is what they do...

Posted by: e on April 28, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

What they missed is that Obama's trip to Mexico was to cook up the whole swine flu thing with Calderon to make sure that Sibelius gets confirmed.

Posted by: Marc on April 28, 2009 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

"...people behaving with the greater good in mind..."

"Greater good"? You mean, like, greater than MINE?

No way. Not for a real Republican.

Posted by: Zandru on April 28, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Let some MSM shill ask Obama at his press conference tonight if he's manipulating the "health situation". Give the jerk an emphatic "NO", Mr. President, and then hammer home the fact that you nominated Gov. Sibelius as your HHS Secretary on FEBRUARY 28TH and the Republicans in the Senate have been obstructing her confirmation ever since. TWO MONTHS and you still don't have have your HHS Secretary. So who, exactly, is putting politics ahead of the nation's well-being???

Posted by: 3reddogs on April 28, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

The more stark raving mad the right gets, the more sane moderates will be sent running in the opposite direction. Aside from the potential for violence, I don't mind if the Limbaughs and Becks of the right degenerate into drunken, schizophrenic, derelicts mumbling something about a conspiracy theories.

Posted by: hopeful on April 28, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing these idiots do is ever their fault. It's always someone, or something else to blame when blowback from their wingnuttery exposes the cluelessness.

And if their stupid can't be explained away by citing hazy democrat plots to make them look bad, the default complaint these days, is that it was that RINO GWB's fault, and they have nothing to do with it, or him. Mindnumbing hypocritical dark comedy that seems to get worse every day.

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on April 28, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

New Zealand is reporting it's first case of swine flu. I can hear Limbaugh now: "Damn those Kiwis they have joined the Democrat conspiracy."

It might take 60 votes to get Sebelius confirmed, but both Republican senators from Kansas have sponsored her. Humm, 58 + 2 is 60. Any chance the Republicans are going to beat her nomination anyway?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 28, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

NEWS AND COMMENT

On MSNBC, Pat Buchanan has been attributing the incidence of swine flu and other ills to the steady influx of Mexicans immigrating to the U.S. across our porous borders.

To respond to this serious problem, let's have Mr. Buchanan and Lou Dobbs go to Mexico now for an extended fact finding mission.

homer www.altara.blogspot.com

Posted by: altara on April 28, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

No, the real problem with conservatives is that their movement is powered almost entirely by exploiting public fear of identifiable enemies and so it is hard to gain political milage when your only "enemies" are microscopic organisms or intense low pressure systems.

Posted by: Ted Frier on April 28, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Ted - If you are right, then the next claim will be the virus resulted from a Democratic-sanctioned marriage between a man and a pig.

Posted by: inkadu on April 28, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Does Wendy Wright also think the Bush administration manipulated the threat alert system for political purposes? At least here, there is a confirmed outbreak (or does she think the kids in Queens are props?). As Olbermann has detailed numerous times, the coincidences are too many to explain the threat level increases as anything other than planned distractions from bad political news (or to harm Kerry during the 2004 election).

Posted by: Alex on April 28, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that if we provide the right tax incentives, the free market will respond in a timely manner to save those people who are valuable enough to our economy to be worth saving.

After all, if you're sick and poor, it's probably your own fault because you're lazy and not motivated to get a job. So you don't deserve to get well.

Posted by: Conservatroll on April 28, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Just as I was reading the comment from Ron Byers, CBC Radio2 said that New Zealand announced eleven cases reported, as well as 6 in Canada.

Should Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan go on a fact finding tour of Mexican brothels, I would switch my objections to a permanently closed border policy for any re-entry.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 28, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

My first thought when I saw the swine flu headlines was, what are they trying to distract us from now? Possibilities: get the media to talk about something else than Obama, or, get the media to focus on something else so Obama can get some work done. For whatever reason, fear always works!

Posted by: Mari on April 28, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

OR... maybe to get the Health Secretary approved!

Posted by: Mari on April 28, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK
As twisted as these responses are, digby explained nicely why these conservative leaders are throwing nonsensical tantrums: public health emergencies require robust government responses and people behaving with the greater good in mind. Too many on the right simply can't tolerate such a dynamic.
They've been spoon-fed for so long the convept that benefits should go first to the wealthy and then the wealthy will trickle them down to the rest of us that anything that doesn't fit this single mechanism is, well, essentially, from the devil.

They've had Red-staters hornswaggled for a long time, but as the polls show now, there are only 20% or 21% who now identify themselves as GOoPers. That is even below the core of conservatism that 'sustained' Bush the last 2-3 years, that kept his approval ratings out of single digits. This seems to indicate that finally many of the Red-staters get it: The GOP does not have your self-interest at heart.

Welcome all you recovering Red-staters to the rest of humanity. We missed you. We HAVE had your best interests at heart, for a long, long time. Now, let's see if we can get to fixin' the country. And, please, join us in laughing at the stark-raving loonies over there in the GOP.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on April 28, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK
Ted - If you are right, then the next claim will be the virus resulted from a Democratic-sanctioned marriage between a man and a pig.

Posted by: inkadu on April 28, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Ted - If you are right, then the next claim will be the virus resulted from a Democratic-imposed marriage between a man and a pig.

Fixed it ... :-)

Posted by: Ole on April 28, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

please watch this video - it is badly made but contains valuable information that is important for you to see. thanks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLT0_xMeLjI&feature=related

Posted by: Rebecca Smith on April 28, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

My first thought when I saw the swine flu headlines was, what are they trying to distract us from now? -Mari

Unfortunately, it's not a media manufactured story. You should further educate yourself and take the threat seriously.

I find it quite humorous that the GOP is blaming the White House and the Democrats for this when it's the GOP's lax corporate regulation that allowed Smithfield Farms to relocate to Mexico so they could continue their cesspool dumping.

The media keeps saying pork is okay to eat. I disagree. Boycott Smithfield Farms. They are responsible for this plaugue. Hurt them the only way we can: their wallet.

Posted by: doubtful on April 28, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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