America's Ebola panic is the October surprise of this election season, and Democrats are struggling to respond to Republican attacks on President Obama's handling of the affair. Never mind that only four people have been diagnosed with the disease in the United States, or that such outbreaks are largely outside the president's control, as my colleague Peter Weber points out. Until Ebola is kicked for good, Republicans are going to use it as a bludgeon in the midterms.
Vulnerable Democrats are distancing themselves from Obama, with some going so far as to call for a travel ban from West Africa, which experts say is not a good idea. Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who has called for such a ban, has also criticized the administration for its response, saying the U.S. has "definitely been late to the table making decisions on" Ebola.
"It's more a carefully worded slap-on-the wrist than searing indictment," writes National Journal's Alex Roarty, after Kagan made similar remarks to him, "but this close to Election Day, with a liberal base to motivate, it counts as real criticism."