Iraq my low approval numbers Scooter Libby KKKarl Rove Scalito Harriet “Quag” Miers that I’m a moron Fitzmas day the man behind the curtain [ibid. Rove], says our feckless leader, George W. (where dubya is the long form of ‘duh’) Bush, we have a freakin’ pandemic! to worry about!
Well, ok, we don’t actually have a pandemic yet, but gull durn it, we will! And after all, the Republicans have an amazing track record on paying attention to the science of epidemiology, population mechanics and the like. Right? Riiiiiight? (is this thing on?)
The idea of being ready for a flu outbreak is a terrific idea, don’t get me wrong. But I have trouble believing President Bush on this one, because he’s being alarmist at the same time. I mean, it makes a certain amount of sense that if the smoking gun of a viral outbreak is found, then in some sense it’s already “too late”. Wait. No. Mushroom cloud. Too Late. Smoking Gun. Prettybirdprettybird!
So he keeps using the word “pandemic”, which actually means:
(of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.
an outbreak of such a disease.
Whereas “epidemic” means:
noun<br/> a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time : a flu epidemic.<br/> • a disease occurring in such a way.<br/> • a sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon : an epidemic of violent crime.<br/>
The built-in Dictionary.app in Mac OS X Tiger (10.4)—which I believe uses these sources, even goes so far, in notes for the definition of “epidemic”, to make the distinction among “pandemic”, “epidemic” and “endemic”:
<br/> USAGE A disease that quickly and severely affects a large number of people and then subsides is an epidemic: throughout the Middle Ages, successive epidemics of the plague killed millions. Epidemic is also used as an adjective: | she studied the causes of epidemic cholera. A disease that is continually present in an area and affects a relatively small number of people is endemic: malaria is endemic in (or | to ) | hot, moist climates. A pandemic is a widespread epidemic that may affect entire continents or even the world: | the pandemic of 1918 ushered in a period of frequent epidemics of gradually diminishing severity. Thus, from an epidemiologist’s point of view, the Black Death in Europe and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are pandemics rather than epidemics.
And so I have to wonder why the President would use pandemic when clearly it isn’t even an epidemic yet? Did he feel the need to politically elevate a potential epidemic to a full epidemic to a full pandemic?
“A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire,” Bush said. “If caught early, it might be extinguished with limited damage; if allowed to smolder undetected, it can grow to an inferno that spreads quickly beyond our ability to control it.”
Forgiving for a moment the alarmist misuse of the word, why aren’t the Reagan asskissers out there taking Bush to task for insulting the former President’s public health policies?
It all reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon, where Linus overhears Lucy telling someone that “Indian Summer” was a ruse created by Native Americans to lull the pilgrims into a false sense of complacency. Linus, tongue out, can only say, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Is that what you’re doing to the pilgrims, Mr. Bush?
Don’t get me wrong, I think something like this should be in place. But I also think it should be motivated by people wanting to protect other people, gunning for the ounce of prevention instead of the pound of cure. But this isn’t that. This is grandstanding and panic-inducing. This is the same tactic he used to get us into a war. This is motivating by Bush imploding.
When are the pilgrims going to realize he just doesn’t care about anything but himself? More to the point, that he can and will climb over the backs of any American to get the brass ring for himself?