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Claude Cartaginese

Swine Flu: No Straight Talk from the White House

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Posted on May 4 2009 3:41 am
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Leaving aside the question of whether or not the latest outbreak of the flu is a pandemic or not, the left-leaning Obama administration has been tripping all over itself in attempting, without being politically incorrect, to advise Americans on how to prepare themselves for it . First reports of the “swine flu” deaths in Mexico led quickly to travel warnings to Americans planning to visit that country.

On reflection, the State Department realized that it may have been singling Mexico out unfairly, which may have been offensive to the Mexican government. This needed to be rectified, and an opportunity soon presented itself. After the first fatality on U.S. soil, gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden told Americans on NBC’ s  “Today” show that they should avoid “confined spaces” like airplanes and subways:

“I would tell members of my family– and I have — that I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now…. It’s not just going to Mexico — if you’re in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be at this point — if they had another way of transportation — [be] suggesting they ride the subway.”

Of course, this was not the politically correct way to advise the populace, as it put the travel and transportation industries in a bad light, so the Obama administration sprang into damage-control mode. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, fresh from having had to explain away a recent DHS assertion that returning war veterans were potential “extremists,” dutifully stepped forward to “clarify” Biden’s comments. “If he could say that over again, he would say if they’re feeling sick, they should stay off of public transit or confined spaces,” she explained. Why, of course, that must be what Biden meant to say.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also helped to “clarify” the VP’s embarrassing remarks, explaining: “What I think the Vice President meant to say was … if you feel sick, if you are exhibiting … flu-like symptoms … you should take precautions … you should limit your travel.” When a reporter replied, “With all due respect,… that’s not even remotely close to what [Biden] said,” Gibbs steadfastly stuck to his story. (Click here to watch the video of his pathetic performance.)

And what of poor Joe Biden? As a self-imposed penance for his verbal blunder, he decided to show Americans that he wasn’t, after all, the least bit squeamish about traveling in crowded, “confined spaces.” Yes, he went to work the next day by train.

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