Reporter's Note: The Administration is trying pretty hard to explain why there is not even vaguely enough vaccine for all who want to be inoculated against H1N1. Meanwhile, I’m trying to explain to my wife where all the PopTarts went, as I write today’s letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
I learned a hard lesson in my early days of TV. I was racing to get a story finished in time for the 6 o’clock news, (about a dog that liked wearing hats, or something like that) and time was running out fast. I slapped down edits like a whirling dervish, answered frantic calls from the control room, and at the last possible second I pressed the play button to meet my deadline.
Afterward, however, the program director stopped by and said something simple but profound. “I was afraid you were going to surprise me by not being done on time. And you know most folks don’t like surprises.”
I think that is what’s bothering people about the government’s H1N1/Swine flu response. We all know that medical science can be inexact. We all know unexpected delays can hold up in any program. We all know that diseases do what they wish with little respect for our plans; kind of like teenagers. But after months of being told by our government that we should be ready for a return of the flu this fall, a lot of people are clearly shocked to find that the government itself seems so utterly unprepared.
The public, heeding all those calls to wash hands, strap on masks, and “get thee to a dispensary” have been shocked to find that there is not only not enough vaccine, but not nearly enough.
I fear, this does more damage than you might think to public trust in government overall. Most of us don’t have a lot to do with the paper pushing in DC most days. Truth be told, although government affects our lives in countless ways, we’re usually only aware of it when it is time to pay taxes, or when the blue lights come on in our rearview mirror, or when we show up to stand in line at a clinic for two hours only to be told “no soup for you!”
Like I was told so long ago, most folks don’t like surprises. Especially unpleasant ones. And when they get hit that way, they are likely to hit back…whether or not there is a good explanation for what went wrong. Speaking of things going wrong, did you see the Redskins on MNF? Ouch. Call me.
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