The Perfect Storm of Paranoia

October 22, 2014

For more on this post, listen to Alan Kelly on SiriusXM POTUS 10-22-14

Ahh, the perfect pandemic.  The product of viral spin.

NY_NYP3With a stricken Ebola victim having walked himself into a Dallas ER, and with two of his nurses having picked up the deadly bug, America’s Texas-size bravery has turned into New Jersey-size fear.  Schools have been closed without educated cause.  Lawmakers have reasoned against measured reason.  And union chiefs have cried for better conditions if or when Ebola strikes.

Perhaps it’s the fatigue of so many quasi-crises.  After all, Obamacare glitches, NSA leaks, Ukraine incursions, downed Malaysian airliners, and ISIS beheadings all make for glass half-empty moods.  Perhaps, too, it’s the approaching mid-term elections.  No better time to fan the flames of an incumbent’s track record.  It’s a glass half-full kind of opportunity for majority-hungry Republicans.  And, oh yeah, there’s the news media whose existence relies critically on drama, debate and the irate.

Cue the panic and the plays that have supported it:

Forgetting or perhaps ignoring the fact that Africa is a continent, a New Jersey school nurse notified faculty this week that two new students, inbound from Rwanda, would be checked for Ebola-like symptoms three times a day for 21 days.  The memo leaked and parents panicked.

What’s the name of The Stupid Play?  In this case, a combination of framing strategies: The Recast (the nurse judged an un-affected country as affected) and the Filter (the nurse omitted the critical fact that Rwanda is 2,600 miles from the Ebola-stricken Africa west coast).  Oops.

Forgetting or perhaps ignoring the fact that there are no direct flights into American cities from Liberia and Sierra Leone, much less Rwanda, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seethed on-the-record, “We don’t need another so-called Czar, we need presidential leadership.  This is a public health crisis, and the answer isn’t another White House political operative.  The answer is a commander in chief who stands up and leads, banning flights from Ebola-afflicted nations, and acting decisively to secure our southern border.”

What’s the name of The Politically Expeditious Play?  In Cruz’s case, the Call Out.   The junior senator mocked Barack Obama’s appointment of a little-known politico to oversee Ebola prevention plans.  He also employed the Filter by ignoring authoritative opinions against banning flights.

Forgetting or perhaps ignoring all evidence that Ebola is not transmitted through the air, a Chicago professor representing the largest nursing union, National Nurses United, speculated on the “strong possibility” that it is.

What’s the name of The Union’s on Drugs Play?  The NNU’s strategy was a Red Herring, the play of choice for operators who are keen to create distractions and drive attention in different directions.

In his 1933 inaugural speech FDR said of The Great Depression, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  And in her Sunday retweet @acereporter chirped of The Great Obsession, “More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.”

Now don’t you feel better?