Senator and 2016 presidential basement-dweller Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has joined the chorus of panicky politicians and media figures, on both sides of the aisle, who are calling for a ban on travel from Ebola-affected west African nations. But Rubio isn't just talking, he is acting... in a few weeks. Even though every world health expert has said that a travel ban would actually make things worse, and even though President Obama has resisted calls for a travel ban, the situation is so dire that Rubio can no longer sit by and do nothing. In a press release this week, he leapt into action (via email from Rubio Press Shop):
“While Ebola’s deadly reach has proven to be a complex and unique international challenge, the many uncertainties surrounding this virus continue to threaten U.S. national security,” said Rubio. “Our biggest priority is ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to limit the spread of Ebola, contain it at the source, and protect Americans.
“We must take any and all necessary precautions to contain this virus – and common sense restrictions on travel from countries now confronting this epidemic is an important step,” added Rubio. “The most effective way to combat this deadly virus is to address it at its source. This ban on issuance of visas does not mean we will be completely cutting off the affected countries from the outside world. We must continue to increase our assistance to those countries as they struggle to contain this outbreak. That is, ultimately, the only way we will be able to stop this outbreak and keep Americans safe from this horrible disease.”
Whoa, Ebola's deadly reach! Threaten U.S. national security! DEADLY VIRUS! Where do I vote, Senator Rubio? Or should I say, when? From the same press release:
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today announced plans to introduce legislation to impose common sense travel restrictions by creating a temporary ban on new visas for nationals of the countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Rubio plans to introduce the legislation following the Senate’s return to session in November.
That's right, folks, Ebola is such a dire threat, and a travel ban is so necessary, that it must be put into place sometime in late November, at the earliest. If anyone doubted the hollownness of Ebola fearmongering in advance of the midterms, here is your smoking projectile vomit.
Obama has already explained why a travel ban, at this point, would make the situation worse, particularly here in the U.S.:
"If we institute a travel ban instead of the protocols that we’ve put in place now, history shows that there is a likelihood of increased avoidance," the president said. "People do not readily disclose their information. They may engage in something called broken travel, essentially breaking up their trip so that they can hide the fact that they have been to one of these countries where there is a disease in place. And as a result, we may end up getting less information about who has the disease. They’re less likely to get treated properly, screened properly, quarantined properly. And as a consequence, we could end up having more cases rather than less.”
The president has also left the door open to a travel ban, should the situation change in such a way as to warrant one.
That hasn't stopped politicians as diverse as Ted Cruz and Wendy Davis from proposing a travel ban, and at least in Cruz's case, he backs up his hair-on-fire panic with a (hollow) demand for an emergency session. That Rubio has dropped even this pretense is probably some of the most comforting Ebola news to come down the pike, in a week full of good Ebola news.