You had one job, CDC, as Glenn Reynolds notes at USA Today:
And, of course, the various busy-body looks at playgrounds, smoking in subsidized housing, and the like. As The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi writes: “The CDC, an agency whose primary mission was to prevent malaria and then other dangerous communicable diseases, is now spending a lot of time, energy and money worrying about how much salt you put on your steaks, how close you stand to second-hand smoke and how often you do calisthenics.”
These other tasks may or may not be important, but they’re certainly a distraction from what’s supposed to be the CDC’s “one job” — protecting America from a deadly epidemic. And to the extent that the CDC’s leadership has allowed itself to be distracted, it has paid less attention to the core mission.
In an era where new disease threats look to be growing, the CDC needs to drop the side jobs and focus on its real reason for existence. But, alas, the problem isn’t just the CDC. It’s everywhere.
The scandal besetting the Secret Service offers a valuable lesson. One of the greatest assets the agency has is its reputation. If would-be attackers believe you are infallible, odds are they won’t test the proposition, much in the same way few criminals waste much time pondering how to rob Fort Knox. Recent events have dealt the agency an incalculable reputational blow.
Omar Gonzalez, a troubled man, stormed the White House with a knife and made it deep inside the building. A felon with a handgun rode an elevator with the president of the United States. A still at-large gunman fired a high-powered rifle at the White House.
Is there any doubt that terrorists and madmen are taking notes? Someone at al-Qaeda is surely slapping his forehead and shouting, “If we only knew!”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has been on the receiving end of a lot of mockery for arguing that the Secret Service should be quicker to use deadly force. “If you project weakness,” Chaffetz argued in hearings last week, “it invites attacks.”
While no one — including, I am sure, Chaffetz — wants to see a trigger-happy Secret Service, no one disputes his basic point, at least when it comes to the Secret Service.
As the debacles add up, Bill Kristol writes that “The decomposition of the Obama presidency has created what Obama might call a teachable moment:”
This is, needless to say, a loathsome phrase, reeking as it does of liberal sanctimoniousness and professorial condescension. Still, who can resist appropriating it, if only for this one occasion? Because it is, really, a moment. It’s a moment when minds can be opened to conservative truths, ears can be induced to hear conservative insights, eyes can be fitted with contact lenses so as better to see conservative arguments.
Are the young struck by the dashed hopes of Obamacare? Give them a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit. They can’t believe the Secret Service farce? Introduce them to James Q. Wilson on bureaucracy. They’re befuddled by the exploitation of an unfortunate incident in Ferguson? Have them read Edward C. Banfield’s The Unheavenly City (especially the chapter he titled “Rioting Mainly for Fun and Profit”). Liberalism’s domestic policies aren’t working quite the way they were supposed to? Acquaint them with Irving Kristol: “I have observed over the years that the unanticipated consequences of social action are always more important, and usually less agreeable, than the intended consequences.”
The economics and (particularly) the tax laws of the late 1960s and 1970s favored mammoth corporations such as Penn Central Railroad, formed in 1968 and spectacularly bankrupt less than two years later, and conglomerates whose component parts had every little to do with each each other such as Beatrice, whose very name became synonymous with what is now referred sardonically as “Too big to fail:”
From the late 1950s until the early 1970s, the company expanded into Canada and purchased a number of other food firms, leveraging its distribution network to profit from a more diverse array of food and consumer products. It came to be the owner of brands such as Avis Rent A Car, Playtex, Shedd’s, Tropicana, John Sexton & Co, Good & Plenty, and many others. Annual sales in 1984 were roughly $12 billion. During both the Winter and Summer Olympics that year, the corporation flooded the TV airwaves with advertisements letting the public know that many brands with which they were familiar were actually part of Beatrice Foods. These ads used the tagline (with a jingle) “We’re Beatrice. You’ve known us all along.” After the Olympics, advertisements for its products continued to end with the catchphrase “We’re Beatrice” and an instrumental version of the “You’ve known us all along” portion of the jingle, as the red and white “Beatrice” logo would simultaneously appear in the bottom right hand corner. However, the campaign was soon found to alienate consumers, calling attention to the fact that many of their favorite brands were in fact part of a far-reaching multinational corporation, and the campaign was pulled off the air by autumn.
The mammoth federal government is now an assortment of fiefdoms each of whom are Beatrices and Penn Centrals in and of themselves. (Actually worse — Penn Central couldn’t sic the full weight of the government on someone to threaten him or access his tax records.) Mr. Obama was elected in 2008 because he was, at the time, the best spokesman for such an antiquated worldview. We now know he’s one of the worst managers of such a concept.
Still, he’ll rake in millions starting 2017 on the speaking circuit, where he really will, at last, have only job.