The population of the United States is well over 306 million people. In a normal year, our country sees literally millions of flu cases, with thousands of fatalities. To date this year, there have been about 100 cases of Swine Flu confirmed. The percentage of the population thus infected with this latest flu strain is far too small to bother calculating. Yet, the limited appearance of the disease has brought this greatest nation on the face of the earth virtually to its knees. “Pandemic” and even the dread “E word” — “epidemic” — are being thrown about with abandon by the media and by public officials from small-town mayors to national politicians. Congressmen and senators are scrambling to update their webpages and issue news releases exhibiting their concern. Billions more taxpayer dollars are being rushed to the pockets of bureaucrats to defend the nation against the Swine Flu onslaught. And now, no less a leadership figure than the vice president of the United States has weighed in. And, oh, how telling are his comments.
Vice President Joseph Biden – occupying the office formerly held by such towering figures as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt (each of who later became president) — has shown himself more on the level of Walter Mitty than Teddy Roosevelt. In an interview Thursday, April 30th on NBC’s “Today” show, Biden showed his true colors in declaring he is so afraid of the flu that he “wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now.” The comments themselves are nonsensical — how did he get to the studio but in the “confined space” of his official, bullet-proof limousine; and what is his alternative, to walk everywhere? But it truly is embarassing to have a vice president show himself to be such a scaredy cat that he states publicly he is afraid to go out and about. Not only that, but when the stuff starting hitting the fan in the aftermath of his remarks, the veep didn’t even have the backbone to defend what he said (and what he said was very clear and unambiguous); he made a weak effort to “explain” that what he “really meant” was something very different from what he actually said.
The signal sent to our school children and their parents by the vice president’s comments, which included warnings against going to schools and even shopping malls, smacks also of Chicken Little: better to cower at home than go to school; don’t go to the mall because someone might sneeze; and heaven forbid you should get on a commerical plane where the risk of breathing someone else’s germs skyrockets.
And what are our adversaries on the world stage to make of this latest revelation of U.S. resolve? All I can say is, another crisis better not suddenly pop up somewhere around the globe, because our vice president is afraid to leave home.
The vice president’s comments clearly do signal the “Change” Barack Obama promised he would bring to Washington — it reflects perhaps the final morphing of America from a nation of tough individualists to one led by timid bureaucrats.