President Obama was in full self-congratulatory mode last week, patting himself aggressively on the back for wiping out ebola and doing what had to be done even as the doubting Toms doubted.
From remarks at the White House:
Last summer, as Ebola spread in West Africa, overwhelming public health systems and threatening to cross more borders, I said that fighting this disease had to be more than a national security priority, but an example of American leadership. After all, whenever and wherever a disaster or a disease strikes, the world looks to us to lead. And because of extraordinary people like the ones standing behind me, and many who are in the audience, we have risen to the challenge.
Now, remember, there was no small amount of skepticism about our chances. People were understandably afraid, and, if we’re honest, some stoked those fears. But we believed that if we made policy based not on fear, but on sound science and good judgment, America could lead an effective global response while keeping the American people safe, and we could turn the tide of the epidemic.
Actually, Obama, distracted from important tasks as usual, was late when it counted, as I pointed out in September. As the Washington Post confirmed in an ebola effort post-mortem last month, our leader and his white horse rode up to save the day after the day had already been saved.
The U.S. military sent about 3,000 troops to West Africa to build centers like this one in recent months. They were intended as a crucial safeguard against an epidemic that flared in unpredictable, deadly waves. But as the outbreak fades in Liberia, it has become clear that the disease had already drastically subsided before the first American centers were completed. Several of the U.S.-built units haven’t seen a single patient infected with Ebola.
It now appears that the alarming epidemiological predictions that in large part prompted the U.S. aid effort here were far too bleak. Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day.
“If they had been built when we needed them, it wouldn’t have been too much,” said Moses Massaquoi, the Liberian government’s chairman for Ebola case management. “But they were too late.”
Perhaps he can offer the relatives of those who died two years of free community college.