With just a couple of weeks before the midterm elections, Fox News Sunday hosted the first cable news confab of the political season with the respective heads of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to talk about (and over each other) the issues of the day, which first and foremost today is Ebola.
On Friday, President Obama chose Ron Klain to be his Ebola "czar," responding to criticism that there was no central coordinator inside the White House to deal with these global health crisis which has now hit America's shores. Klain is a D.C. insider with good relationships in the administration and Capitol Hill, but he's definitely a partisan Democrat who served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden - so you knew there'd be some GOP criticism.
"There is a malaise in this country of how people are feeling that this president is handling big problems," Priebus told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday morning. "And when you appoint this next individual , Klain, who’s a lobbyist and political hack, to head up the Ebola crisis in this country, it doesn’t give Americans any confidence about this president."
Later on CBS' Face The Nation, Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn also expressed her disappointment in the selection of Klain to coordinate the nation's response on Ebola. "General (Russell) Honore or former Senator Bill Frist would have been a much more appropriate type of appointee to address this," she said. "I don't know Ron Klain's emergency response experience. Maybe the Bush-Gore recount qualified in that? I think talking to constituents - so many people have said - 'you know, we didn't want somebody to give us spin, we want somebody to give us the facts,' and that's what they were hopeful for."
Let's break down Blackburn's statement. Russell Honore was the Army Lieutenant General who the Bush administration sent down to New Orleans after Katrina in 2005, and was universally praised as the one government official who took control the post-storm chaos. Bill Frist is the former Senate Majority Leader and a doctor. And Blackburn's reference to the Bush-Gore recount when describing Ron Klain goes back to when Klain headed up Al Gore's effort during the 2000 Florida recount and was portrayed in the HBO movie Recount by Kevin Spacey.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said he isn't bothered by Klain's lack of medical experience, saying his job is to be an administrator, which he has vast experience in.
"What you need is the coordination, and Ron will be doing that on a full-time basis," he told Face's Bob Scheiffer. "There are health officials - myself, the CDC, there are others. You don't need to be a health care person. You need to be somebody who's a good organizer. His experience is extraordinary. He's been chief of staff to a couple of vice presidents. He has a lot of experience."