The first confirmed case of ebola in the US has been identified in Dallas today, which should trouble us more than a little bit, because that’s all it takes — one case.

A very articulate CDC doctor with textbook diction has assured us in a press conference that the situation is under complete control — that the CDC has over a hundred (!) professionals already at work in Africa, and that the Defense Department has “boots on the ground” there.

That magic phrase! Nothing to worry about; the neoprene soles of high-tech footwear are already at work, stomping out the dreaded virus in its lair (but it’s already here). And we are told that the “President is leaning forward on this,” whatever in this fresh hell that might mean; that the CDC is “acting proactively” (as opposed to “channeling an ostrich,” a prior strategy that clearly has now been abandoned).

The CDC doctor spoke in wonderfully enunciated tones, with carefully measured stresses on all significant words. Each phrase was honed by expert copywriters to project just the right mixture of wariness and confidence necessary to prevent the entire nation from shitting its pants, which, all things considered, would not be an inappropriate reaction. Because it only takes one case.

What we have not been told is how long this person has been here, how many other people here he has been in contact with, what steps have been taken or can be taken to quarantine them, and other data that surely will be relevant to any further discussion.

Of course it’s easy to second guess, and say that things should have been done — but — no kidding — how much would it have cost to have a better plan for this than we seem to have now? Was it just too much trouble? In just the past few months, the number of projected victims has risen from a few thousand or so to a million or more.

Terrorism is scary, immigration reform very noble, and ending “income inequality” endears our leader to his base, but plague trumps all of that. It kills — literally. And the last time we had one of this potential magnitude, it killed millions.

At this point people may be wondering if it’s time to ask some obvious questions:

1, Did the president really think that he could leave the containment of this disease to African states and leaders whose managerial expertise, responsibility, reliability and general competence has not thus far been especially noteworthy?

2. Did he think that, like ISIS, this crisis would best be dealt with by ignoring it in hopes it would just fade away?

People do get weary of controversy, and complex issues that just get more confusing the more they are discussed. They forget about the listless attitudes and the apathetic responses, the chaotic non-logic and the lengthy procrastinations — but they don’t forget the sight of someone puking their guts out as blood spurts from their eyes and ears minutes before they die. This is real, it’s here, and — Mr. President — this is one you can’t just talk your way out of.

This situation may require some very hard decisions, but we know you can make those. It will also require some very good ones. Do you have any of them? Because, if you do, this would be a good time to put them on display. We await with some interest to find out.

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Addenda:

  • There are now at least two Ebola victims in Dallas.
  • When the first victim went to the hospital with “flu-like” symptoms, he identified himself as having just come from Liberia.  They sent him home.
  • He has been in contact with at least five schoolchildren.  Neither they nor anyone else he has been in contact with have been quarantined.  They are being “monitored.”

Does anyone think we have a good grip on this situation?