How a president and a governor appear to prepare for H1N1 flu season

Los Angeles Times
“Top of the Ticket”
September 1, 2009

If an elected official is prepared for a certain kind of public emergency — say a possible flu pandemic — but no one in the public knows about all the preparations, is he/she really prepared?

In government and politics, the answer is no.

It is bipartisan media strategy SOP for politicians’ staffs to arrange for public briefings on stuff they already know, so that they can be seen knowing it by the people who elected (might reelect) them. Usually this involves a visit somewhere by the official to provide video visuals for news coverage.

And it can include pedantic advice on such things as, for instance, how to properly sneeze and what to do with a used tissue. (Hint: Do not talk to co-workers while sneezing and do not share used tissues.)

This was even the case before the name Katrina became a verb, as in to be Katrina-ed, by looking unprepared and inept.

Two prime examples today: President Obama in the Rose Garden talking about the upcoming H1N1 flu season. And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a public health lab talking about — oh, look! — the very same thing.

We have what they both said [here].

— Andrew Malcolm

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