President Obama’s calm demeanor belies a “seething” frustration about his administration’s complacent, insufficient reaction to the Ebola crisis, according to the New York Times. Obama isn’t telling CDC chiefs that they’re doing a “heck of a job,” as President George W. Bush famously told FEMA director Michael Brown as Brown’s FEMA flailed about after Hurricane Katrina.
The reporting called the president “visibly angry” and revealed that he called the CDC response “not tight”–an assessment that takes on a double meaning in this case, since tight quarantine is an important weapon against spread of the virus. The naming of an “Ebola czar” this week is one result. Obama is caught in a Catch-22 with the Ebola crisis. He needs to be seen as acting forcefully and with great concern to combat Ebola’s spread, while also reassuring people that there is little real reason for concern.