In his first official act after being named Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, named LibertyPell’s Stupidity Editor, Kraut Gegendum, to the newly created position of Special Assistant for the Detection and Eradication of Ebola-Related Stupidity in the United States. The position will be known as the Yambuku Tsar because the disease was first observed in 1976 in Yambuku, Zaire and Tsar is the correct way to spell it.
In his acceptance speech, Gegendum noted that the name Ebola was chosen to mollify Yambuku tourism officials who feared that their efforts would be impeded by association with a disease, the symptoms of which are the passage of all manner of bodily fluids from all manner of bodily openings. The Ebola is the river (depicted above) adjacent to Yambuku, which the tourism officials hoped would go unnoticed.
Gegendum had high praise for Klain, noting his strong qualifications for a job involving coordination between federal agencies and messaging to an increasingly nervous public. Gegendum had no praise whatever for Republican critics who missed few opportunities to poke President Obama in the eye.
The new Tsar quickly dismissed calls for a cessation of flights from the impacted region of West Africa to the United States and a closing of the borders surrounding the three most severely impacted countries, noting that neither the flights nor the borders actually existed.
Gegendum singled out for special stupidity recognition: the lady who showed up at an airport in a homemade HAZMAT suit; parents in Mississippi who pulled their children out of school because the principal had traveled to Zambia, a country in southern Africa untouched by the Ebola outbreak in the Western region of that continent; and a school district in Ohio that closed both a middle school and an elementary school because an employee might have flown on the same plane (not even the same flight) as an Ebola infected healthcare worker.
Despite his hard earned and well-deserved reputation for snarkiness, Gegendum showed two recent illustrations suggesting appropriate responses on the part of the American people to the likelihood of harm in this country.
As is appropriate for White House press conferences, most of the focus was on Republican stupidity but, in an effort at bipartisanship, Gegendum ran a clip of a political advertisement entitled Republican Cuts Kill created by The Agenda Project and its founder, Erica Payne. (It is 60 seconds long and well worth the time.) According to Real Clear Politics, “This ad, featuring clips of Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, and many other Republicans implies that austerity cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health are responsible for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.” The ad received the coveted four-Pinocchio designation for outright lying from The Washington Post Fact Checker.
The ad fared especially poorly in contrast with the first paragraph (you know, the one you are likely to read) of the What We Do section of The Agenda Project website: “The Agenda Project’s goal is to build a powerful, intelligent, well-connected political movement capable of identifying and advancing rational, effective ideas in the public debate and in so doing ensure our country’s enduring success.”
Founder, Erica Payne, laments: “good values and common sense have lost their power in the public debate.”
For this exemplary hypocrisy, Payne and The Agenda Project won the stupidity award nosing out the Mississippi parents who could not find Zambia on a map.
Taking questions from reporters, neither Klain nor Gegendum could explain why the term czar (or tsar for that matter) denoting a monarch or supreme ruler with Royal or Imperial rank was the title of choice in a Democratic administration.
Disclosure: I have met Ron Klain once at a reception he hosted before a Harvard soccer game featuring his son as an accomplished player. I haven’t the smallest idea whether we would agree on anything or everything (well, that never happens), but he seems to me entirely well suited to the task of keeping the country safe from stupidity, albeit at some personal risk of injury from excess eye rolling.