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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nutroots Lied About Pandemic Preparations

In what should go down in internet history as one of the most embarrassingly misleading posts, John Nichols of The Nation authored an article titled "GOP Know-Nothings Fought Pandemic Preparedness." The joke was on Nichols, because Nichols and the nutroots bloggers who ran with his piece were proven to be the know-nothings within hours, and then some.

The point of Nichols' post was that Republican Senator Susan Collins, supposedly acting at the instigation of Karl Rove, irresponsibly cut funding for pandemic prevention in the debate of the trillion dollar stimulus plan. The nutroots went nuts. A chance to blame Republicans for mass death:

  • Crooks and Liars ran this post: "Swine Flu Is Bad Enough, Yet Republicans Always Manage to Make It Worse.
  • Andrew Sullivan posted a reader's comment as follows: "[T]he flu pandemic has exposed Rove and Collins. They tried to score political points, and they were wrong."
  • Ryan Powers at Think Progress ran this post: "In Attempt To Placate The Right Wing, Collins and Specter Endorsed Pandemic Flu Funding Cut.
  • Matthew Yglesias ran a link a video of Collins with this comment: "Boy, it sure is great that Susan Collins made sure we didn’t waste any money on pandemic flu preparations in the Recovery Act. That’s moderation I can believe in!"
  • A post at Mother Jones argued that "Conservatives didn't bring on the swine flu outbreak, any more than they caused Hurricane Katrina. But in both cases, they've made the federal government less equipped to respond to these disasters with possibly life-saving emergency services."

As I pointed out yesterday, this was all a lie. The Bush administration did extensive planning for a flu pandemic, and spent tons of money. The Collins objection to including non-stimulus spending in a stimulus bill was irrelevant to our pandemic preparedness.

Even the NY Times now acknowledges the Bush effort:

Other public health experts also endorsed the administration’s response to the outbreak that emerged from Mexico. They gave much of the credit to President Bush, whose administration did extensive planning for such an emergency. “We’re seeing a payoff of the original investment made in pandemic preparedness by the Bush administration,” said Jeffrey W. Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health....

Frances Fragos Townsend, who was assistant to President Bush for homeland security and counterterrorism, noted that the Department of Health and Human Services had devised a detailed plan for responding to the threat of pandemic flu in 2005 and 2006.

So will the lying nutroots apologize? Not on your life. Which is why these left-wing pundits cannot be trusted to make sound judgments as to matters of life and death, such as national security and health care policy. They pretend to be intellectual, but all they are is intellectually dishonest.

UPDATE: John Nichols is in a hole, yet he keeps digging:
No amount of spin will change this reality. In fact, the lame defenses mustered by Collins' office compound the wrong, and feed the sense that the senator in more interested in playing politics than living up to her own claim -- made as she was seeking to strip the preparedness funds from the stimulus -- that "everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu."
You are wrong, just admit it. The Bush administration did an excellent job of preparing for a pandemic, and the stimulus bill funding has NOTHING to do with current preparedness. You singled out Susan Collins because you thought you had an easy target, a Republican who is unpopular in Republican circles because she supported the compromise stimulus bill. But the truth is more important to some of us than political posturing, and the truth is that you are WRONG.

Even the Obama administration and the NY Times know it. As so does Daily Kos (via Instapundit): "I mean some people have just gone off the deep end on this one." Nichols is one of these "some people." Run a retraction, and stop digging.

Related Post: The Truth Is The First Victim Of Swine Flu

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