Tags: Barack Obama | Ebola Outbreak | obama | angry | ebola | crisis

New York Times: Obama 'Angry' Over Ebola Response

By    |   Saturday, 18 Oct 2014 01:00 PM

On the surface, even in his weekly address Saturday, President Barack Obama is urging calm when it comes to the Ebola crisis, but people behind the scenes say that he is becoming more frustrated and even angry with how his administration has been handling the United States' response.

For example, during his cabinet meeting on Wednesday, people briefed on the event said he was angry about medical information that was turning out to be wrong, including how to categorize Ebola patients, reports The New York Times.

Obama reportedly complained that the response, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control, was "not tight."

The president is caught in a tough place, as he must pull together the response without adding to the panic over Ebola, which has been growing steadily since the death of Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan in a Dallas hospital and the infections of two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who cared for him.

The panic was stoked even more on the news that Vinson had flown cross country on a commercial jet. So far, no other infections have been confirmed in the United States.

Friday, Obama answered calls to appoint an Ebola "czar" to coordinate the response and reassure the public on the crisis. But his choice, Ron Klain, who is a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden, is being criticized as a political appointment rather than an expert who can help solve problems.

But being in command without stoking panic is a challenge, said David Axelrod, a former close adviser of Obama's.

“It’s not enough to doggedly and persistently push for answers in meetings," Axelrod told The Times. "You have to be seen doggedly and persistently pushing for answers.”

In the weeks since Duncan arrived, the White House has pushed to insist the news media was overstating the crisis while showing the president was taking action.

But Obama's national security staff is stretched thin. In addition to the Ebola crisis, officials are in the midst of the military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS), and has had to deal with Russia's escalation of hostilities against Ukraine, among other issues.

On Thursday, like on Saturday, Obama attempted to ease the panic, but the mood is changing from the time around Sept. 30, when Duncan tested positive for the disease.

And Obama kept up with his usual activities, including meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and travel for Democratic party fundraisers.

But with questions about Duncan's treatment mounting, federal officials have been rethinking their response to the disease.

Government officials still kept bickering, though, over what that response would be. For example, the CDC had opposed screening for Ebola at airports, but Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson worked out the process, and the screening process began at selected airports.

The crisis reached a new height with the news that Vinson had traveled on a Frontier Airlines flight even though she had a fever, said senior officials.

"This Frontier thing took it out of the abstract thing and to this level where people could identify with and made them scared,” a senior official told the Times.

After that, Obama canceled his fundraising trips and officials scheduled days of meetings, shelving all other subjects publicly, including the fight against ISIS.

And the administration insists Obama has been deeply engaged in the issue since August, when African leaders met in the United States and he pushed them to ramp up the Ebola fight.

"It’s not that people aren’t doing anything,” a senior official said. “It’s that they’re not yet doing enough.”

After Klain's appointment though, Obama appears to be returning to business as usual. On Friday, he headed a meeting with the National Security Council to discuss ISIS, and he plans to travel to Maryland and Illinois Sunday.

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On the surface, even in his weekly address Saturday, President Barack Obama is urging calm when it comes to the Ebola crisis, but people behind the scenes say that he is becoming more frustrated and even angry with how his administration has been handling the United States'...
obama, angry, ebola, crisis
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2014-00-18
Saturday, 18 Oct 2014 01:00 PM
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