Confronted with probing questions about the reality of climate change and whether or not they believe it is happening, the standard and thus predictable response from Congressional Republicans has been and remains “I’m not a scientist”. Of course this is patently evasive and begs questions like “Then how can you credibly cast a vote on any legislation dealing with the phenomenon?” But, what’s key here is the pleading of ignorance because the topic is what? too complex? too scientific? above Congressional Republicans’ pay-grade?
With the foregoing context established, you would think that the same “know-nothings” would adopt the identical tack where ebola was concerned. But no, out of nowhere, we suddenly find that on the right side of aisle (1) there are a host of medical doctors and epidemiologists whose level of knowledge is of such depth and breath that they can over-rule the positions staked out by experts whose credentials are vouchsafed by their extensive schooling, clinical training, familiarity with the results of empirical studies and on-the-job experience. What follows are two examples of this dramatic shift from ignorance to expertise.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), doing his best to stoke excessive fears if not hysteria, has announced (2) that ebola is “incredibly contagious”, involving possibilities for contamination that go far beyond the limited ones cited by experts. Not one to be outdone, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has asserted that he will, next month, introduce legislation to place travel bans on flights coming to the US from those parts of the African continent where ebola remains a notable problem (3). Such a step flies in the face of the unanimity in the medical community that such bans are counter-productive.
At first blush, Republicans’ positions on climate change and ebola seem poles apart; i.e. from ignorance to know-it-all. But, at base, they share this common thread, especially in an election year – they both involve pandering to the right-wing base. It is that group of voters who are so deeply in denial of climate change that they would take great umbrage at any Republican who would dare contradict that mind-set. So, conservative office-holders plead ignorance. But, with ebola, any authoritarian pronouncements that heighten fear can be framed within a narrative that it’s Democrats who aren’t doing enough to protect you. So, better vote them out of office this November. Simply put, the Republicans are playing electoral politics by playing alternately uninformed or expert depending on context.
Only in GOPland could such hypocrisy combined with intellectual fraud and dishonesty pass a “smell test”.
1. There are a handful of Congressional Democrats who appear ready to support Rubio’s travel ban proposal. They should not be allowed to escape notice for their
disregard of the position of experts on this matter.
2. See “Rand Paul Contradicts Experts, Says that Ebola is ‘Incredibly Contagious’ ” @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/16/rand-paul-ebola- It should be noted that this senator does hold a medical degree having trained and practiced as an ophthalmologist.
3. See “Marco Rubio to Propose Ebola Travel Ban Legislation” @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/20/marco-rubio-ebola-…