10/21/2004: Thought for the Day:
Babington and Brown report the appalling news that, in the midst of a flu-vaccine shortage, Dr. John F. Eisold, the attending physician for Congress, has urged all 535 members of Congress to stop by his office for a vaccination, regardless of age or physical health. This sounds very much like the sort of pampering that puts "member of Congress" in the bottom half of most surveys ranking the respect afforded various professions, just a few notches above journalists.
A press spokesman for Dr. Eisold explained to the Post that what the rest of us consider a legislative body is in fact an oversized bicameral Petri dish teeming with deadly viruses and bacteria. Members of Congress "are at high risk," he explained, "because they shake hands with a lot of people." Sensing, perhaps, that this wouldn't cut much ice with people like, say, my wife (who is immunocompromised from cancer treatments yet still waiting for her flu vaccine) or my septuagenarian parents (who waited on line seven hours in two separate places to get their vaccine), Dr. Eisold's spokesmen shifted gears and explained that the real danger wasn't that members of Congress would get sick, but that their dancing pathogens would endanger the many people they came into contact with afterward. That would include a lot of elderly people, who tend to be more politically active than younger people, and also a lot of patients in Veterans Administration hospitals, who are ideal for patriotic photo-ops because they have no means of escape. (Dr. Eisold's spokesman didn't mention the upside: sidelining scores of corporate lobbyist/fundraisers.)
--Timothy Noah [slate.msn.com]
Len on 10.21.04 @ 07:13 AM CST