Obama's Strange Silence
Maybe I've missed it, but has anyone heard even a peep from President Obama about this year's flu epidemic? Has this most persuasive man on earth even once used the bully pulpit to promote simple, inexpensive and incontrovertibly protective steps like getting the flu vaccine and taking everyday preventive actions like washing hands often and "common sense measures" like using a tissue when coughing or sneezing?
Did he do or say anything to encourage adequate production of flu vaccine and antiviral drugs, both currently in short supply? Annual flu season pediatric deaths ranged from 34 to 282 over the past eight years and total flu-related deaths are estimated at over 20,000 annually. With the CDC saying this flu season is starting out to be much worse than average -- 37 pediatric deaths so far -- but not too late to take preventive steps, where has the president been on this life and death issue?
President Obama does not hesitate to use the bully pulpit in all its forms to advance every element of his political agenda. Whether it be his extended appearances on The View, Jon Stewart's "Daily Show," Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon or MTV; hectoring the Supreme Court in front of the nation while mischaracterizing its Citizens United decision during his State of the Union address or publicly warning it not to rule against Obamacare; bullying Israel on settlements and potential action against the Iranian nuclear program; going over the heads of Congress to rally public support for his position on a raft of issues from the fiscal cliff to the debt ceiling to protecting our kids with tighter gun controls; without having the facts, criticizing the Cambridge police for acting stupidly in the arrest of a black Harvard professor; to touting regulations making sterilizations and contraceptives cost-free, this president is never shy about speaking out in an array of venues on matters of importance to him, no matter how divisive. Having made 1,852 speeches, remarks and comments (699 using a teleprompter) during his first term, why has this most eloquent of speakers not used any of his broad and unmatched influence, potent powers of persuasion, massive social media capability and vaunted campaign organization (which is now being reconstituted to support his legislative agenda) in the public interest to provide information and advocacy for the simple, noncontroversial steps that would save many Americans, particularly the most vulnerable among us -- our children and the elderly -- from the ravages of the flu?
Revised: flu death statistics updated