According to the advisory for the event, a portion of the president's remarks will be devoted to praising work done by the medical research community in combating the deadly virus -- including slowing the growth rate of infections in West Africa, treating patients in the United States and conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial for a promising vaccine. But the visit won't be an exclusively celebratory affair. The president, according to aides, is traveling to the NIH's bucolic Bethesda campus because the proverbial clock is ticking on a biomedical emergency that remains unresolved. With just days to go before Congress must fund the government, fears are mounting that the administration's request for billions of dollars to help combat Ebola will go underfunded or even unaddressed.
San Stein noted this morning that the word "Ebola" was mentioned 92 times during the Oct. 24 White House press briefing, before dropping to single digits over the last couple of weeks. The drop-off was so striking, it calls for a chart.
But while much of the political discussion has moved on, Stein added that President Obama hasn't forgotten about the virus, and he'll travel today to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda to help "reacquaint America with Ebola."
A senior administration official told the Huffington Post, "I think in some ways Ebola has receded from the front page of the papers, but now is not the time to let down our guard. That's one of the messages you would be hearing from the president. Now is the time to double-down on our efforts and make progress."
Right. Ebola was not a fad that fell out of fashion after Republicans no longer saw value in exploiting public anxiety for partisan gain. The threat is still real. The virus is still deadly. The ongoing effects are still devastating in parts of West Africa.
The need for Congress to invest in a meaningful response is no different today than when congressional candidates were using Ebola in campaign commercials six weeks ago.
Indeed, while we wait to see how Congress responds to the White House's emergency funding request, I still wish the political conversation would circle back to Ebola, not only because the deadly virus still deserves attention, but to a lesser extent, because some accountability is still warranted.
Can New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) explain what became of his controversial Ebola policy?
Does Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) still believe his conspiracy theories about Ebola?
Can former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) defend his condemnations of Obama's handling of the Ebola threat?
Can Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) defend his suggestions that the public should no longer trust public-health officials' guidance about Ebola?
Does Sen.-elect Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) stand by her assertions that the president may not care whether or not Americans get Ebola?
Has the GOP en masse explained whether they still believe Ron Klain is a poor choice to oversee the federal Ebola response?