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Blatchford: 2005 speech shows politicians knew we needed to prepare for pandemic. They gambled, we lost.

Avoidance of the politics of Trump, Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, et al, is the goal this week. This will be difficult because the alternate subject is what else? COVID-19, of course.

An event in 2005, called to my attention by a reader who shared a YouTube video, is notable today. Most mystifying is the fact that the video has not been discussed and shown far and wide throughout the media — especially TV.

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Consider a few of the most pertinent quotes. “If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare.” “Scientists and doctors cannot tell us where or when the next pandemic will strike, or how severe it will be.” “First, we must detect outbreaks that occur anywhere in the world. Second, we must … stockpile vaccines and anti-viral drugs.” “Third, we must be ready to respond at the federal, state and local level in the event that a pandemic reaches our shores.”

Sound familiar? This speaker had the handle on it and spelled out in 2005, virtually everything that people say we needed to do this time. The word my reader used to describe this speech was “prescient.” Kind of hard to disagree today, eh? Toward the end, the speaker added, “…one day many lives could be needlessly lost because we failed to act today.” And lastly, “…and it will require the immediate attention of the United States Congress so we will have the resources…”

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The speaker was President George W. Bush who, it seems, read a book about the 1918 flu pandemic. It worried him to the extent that he took the time to present a comprehensive plan to prepare for the next pandemic that he felt was inevitable. (Google “2005 George Bush on pandemic video.”)

Now, before anyone starts yammering about President Donald Trump not installing preventive measures, hold on. Bush made the speech at the beginning of his second term (2005). I found no evidence that he followed through. I’m unaware that Barack Obama took any preventive action or if he was even aware of Bush’s recommendation. It seems few, if any, of the 535 members of congress had any awareness whatsoever. Additionally, it was mentioned that Dr. Anthony Fauci was in attendance when the speech was made at the National Institutes of Health. Bottom line? If there’s blame to lay, there’s enough to spread over three presidents, two political parties and the entire United States Congress — Trump being the least culpable.

Conclusions? If Bush and Congress had begun action one year after his speech, we’d have had 13 years of planning and preparation behind us prior to COVID-19’s arrival. If Obama and Congress had acted one year after his inauguration, we’d have had 11 years. If Trump and Congress had acted one year after his inauguration, we’d have had three years. Who’s at fault? Judge for yourself.

Politicians gambled and we lost. Someone described the pandemic as “a low probability, but a high consequence event.” True enough. Apparently, our so-called leaders put their money elsewhere. Protecting Americans? Seemingly a lower priority than personal comfort. (Think Peolsi’s ice cream.)

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Some hold South Korea up as an example of better pandemic response than ours. That’s comparing apples and lug nuts. South Korea is about the size of Indiana with a population about one-sixth of ours. South Korean government exerts a tad more citizen control than ours. I’ve concluded that people of the Asian culture are generally a more “orderly” people than are U.S. citizens. They are better followers of rules.

Lastly, I’m concerned by some so-called leaders who have presumed to tell us what we may or may not purchase from open stores. People have been arrested for taking a walk. These leaders are overreaching their authority, not to mention the U.S. Constitution. Their actions can be likened to that of Communist and Nazi governments. Citizens have put up with much, and pols who push too hard just might get a surprise.

Citizens have tolerated too much for too long. As a result, politicians have become overly confident. Thomas Jefferson said, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” The pols have become who and what they are because we the people have failed in our own responsibilities to hold them accountable.

A few state mottos to consider: New Hampshire “Live free or die.” My home state: “Mountaineers are always free.” The state of my birth: “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” And Virginia: “Thus always to tyrants.” These embody our spirit. We can endure hardship, but proclamations prohibiting what we can buy or do alone (fishing) are idiotic. Governors, let common sense prevail — not tyranny.

Rick Blatchford writes from Mount Airy. His column appears every other Saturday. Email him at rpblatch4d@comcast.net.

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