Monday, May 4, 2009

Politics: Biden Too Much Like Cheney

PORTOLA, CALIFORNIA - During the Bush administration (before this blog was started), I was well known for criticizing the government for trying to scare the populace. Vice President Dick Cheney, especially, seemed to never cease talking about the potential threat of terrorism and how we should always be thinking about that threat. Meanwhile, other threats, including the state of the financial system and hence the economy, were not at all on the average person's scope of vision, to say nothing about what was happening in other aspects of foreign policy or foreign wars.

I have a sense that the Obama administration seems to be either intentionally or through incompetence doing the same thing--distracting the voters from more important issues by scaring them about something that they don't really need to be concerning themselves about in their daily life. The distraction is the H1N1 influenza A virus that everyone has been focused on for nearly two weeks now--foremost the comments last week by Vice President Joe Biden stating that he wouldn't enter a confined place like an aircraft or a subway because of the risk of contracting the virus.

The distraction seems to be pretty real. Instead of a focus on the late data about the "stress tests" on the banks, what's going on with the automotive industry, or what's happening in Afghanistan, news shows are focusing instead on the virus--even as it becomes increasingly clear that the virus may be of about the same threat level as the "normal" flu.

There is nothing productive about living in fear. Just as we should not change our lifestyle or forgo rights as a result of terrorism, there is no reason to radically change our lives as a result of a disease. There may be prudent things to do, such as avoiding close contact with those who may have encountered the virus, but that's very different from letting the virus direct the average person's behavior on a daily basis.

There is no excuse for inciting fear. While the CDC may have been making prudent declarations, there is no way not to find Vice President Biden's comments irresponsible. His comments deserve the same kind of criticism that was leveled against Cheney's constant incitement of fear--let's hope that Biden's were an insolated incitement, and not the beginning of a pattern of distracting the public with reasons to be fearful.

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