John Barrasso has said some ridiculous things about health care during his time in the U.S. Senate, but his latest criticism of President Barack Obama sets a new low.

Barrasso always boasts of his career as a physician to explain why his expertise is particularly valuable to the Senate, as well as to Wyoming. But his non-stop criticism of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) during the past four years has been extremely partisan, and not based on health or economic facts.

His latest criticism of the president is easily recognizable as the type of crass political maneuver for which Barrasso is never held accountable, no matter what’s at stake. Wyoming’s junior senator leveled his attack on Obama because he is actually cooperating with other nations to curb the Ebola crisis.

Take a moment to contain your rage at the thought of the leader of the free world actually deciding the best way to contain an epidemic in Africa is to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) — the United Nations agency that has been working on major international health issues since 1948.

Yes, the United Nations of “New World Order” fame, the organization that drives conservatives crazy because they want us to believe its main purpose is to eliminate national sovereignty and erode the international power of the United States. And don’t forget the black helicopters.

Barrasso has been enough of a conservative lapdog in the Senate in recent years that it’s not big news he’s complaining about the U.N. again. But with this criticism of Obama for working with the WHO, his pandering to the far-right has veered dangerously close to the looney-tune ravings of Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert, Tea Party favorites in Texas who never let the truth interfere with what they think is a good partisan sound bite and red meat for their base.

The Republican congressional leadership was quick to shamelessly pounce on the Ebola crisis and blame Obama for allegedly not doing enough to keep the disease from spreading to America. They hope to tie a new albatross around the necks of Democrats in close congressional races who are generally supportive of Obama’s policies.

Barrasso represents the Republicans who are eager to exploit the fears of the American public to capture enough battleground states to take over control of the U.S. Senate. For conservatives, the Ebola epidemic is a gift from the heavens; an October surprise they never expected.

In a conference call with the Iowa Republican Party last Wednesday, Barrasso accused the president of trying to be “politically correct” instead of protecting and defending the nation. Sounds downright treasonous, doesn’t it?

“The president has said, ‘Well, I’ll follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization.’ That’s what he said, and you know the World Health Organization is run by the United Nations, not the United States,” Barrasso said. “It is much more of a political organization. And the president is trying to be politically correct.”

Barrasso sniffed out Obama’s real agenda, in case Iowa Republicans didn’t get the implications of a president working hand-in-hand with the U.N. “The president of the United States [and] members of Congress take an oath of office to protect and defend this country, the Constitution, and yet we don’t see that coming from the president who wants to depend on whatever the World Health Organization has to say,” Barrasso said.

Yes, he’s talking about the evil WHO, which not only eradicated smallpox from the globe, but also has helped reduce child mortality, increased life expectancies worldwide, prevented millions of deaths through the use of vaccines, promoted access to safe water and sanitation and decreased the incidence of HIV/AIDS, among its many accomplishments. Barrasso, our self-proclaimed “Wyoming’s doctor,” wants to know how a U.S. president could cooperate with an outfit that has that kind of shady track record of improving the health of the world’s population.

He can’t be serious. Yet because he’s not up for re-election and he’s from an ultra-red state like Wyoming, the GOP leadership can trot Barrasso out to say any foolish thing he wants to about Obama if it will help link Democratic candidates to his unpopularity right before the Nov. 4 election.

Is the WHO immune from legitimate criticism? No, it has had its share of financial mismanagement problems over the years, which has reduced donations to the agency and limited its effectiveness in some public health campaigns.

But the WHO’s efforts to stop the Ebola epidemic at its source in three West African nations so it doesn’t spread to other countries, including the U.S., has received almost universal approval from doctors on the ground. That doesn’t matter to critics like Barrasso, who keep pushing the knee-jerk reaction to implement travel bans to America from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Health officials say that’s precisely the wrong approach, because it will simply mean more people with Ebola will likely try to leave their homelands to surreptitiously gain entrance to the U.S. through other means, instead of taking commercial flights where they can have their health monitored. It will also restrict much-needed volunteer help to work in the most heavily impacted countries, because these health professionals know they’ll have trouble getting back home no matter what the status of their personal health is.

But that doesn’t sound nearly as forceful as a draconian travel ban, which makes it appear that Republicans want to do something concrete to protect Americans, and Democrats don’t. In reality, they are putting the lives of more people in danger, but that’s a sacrifice the national GOP is apparently quite willing to make if it helps them at the polls.

To throw one more dart at the Ebola crisis to see if it can hit Obama, Barrasso and other conservatives who blocked the president’s nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy as the nation’s surgeon general are demanding he name a “qualified” person in that post to oversee the national response to Ebola.

Murthy was highly qualified, but he had two strikes against him from the outset of his nomination. First, he had supported Obamacare and the president wanted him in the position, so the opposition couldn’t allow it. Second, Murthy dared to call gun violence a national health problem, tweeting that he was “tired of politicians playing politics with guns, putting lives at risk because they’re scared of the NRA.”

It was the truth, of course, but it ticked off the NRA, which kicked and screamed until enough red-state Democrats joined Republicans in also opposing Murthy.

Barrasso and his party have made millions of Americans fearful of an unlikely Ebola outbreak at home, and urged policies that will make us less safe, just so voters will express their displeasure with the Democrats for not doing enough to protect the nation’s health.

Thanks, Doc.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. Obama is the grasshopper in the legislature chicken coop of self serving special interest politics. The WHO and the UN have failed miserably in the speed of dealing with a known dangerous infectious disease. Concentration camps are now being set up for sick people to die in, while Barasso and Drake create social debates that go no where. Ain’t politics grand.

  2. WHO’s on first. Barrasso is out in Right Field preaching to the bleacher seats.

    I’m long past the point of apologizing to the rest of the world for Barrasso ( and R. B. Cheney , Babs Cubin , C. Lummis et al- the rabid frothing politicians that Wyoming infests the world with ). Instead, I just say that Barrasso has been a beltway insider since his Georgetown days and internships in D.C ; a career professional politician with the highest ( lowest) of ambitions ; a Senator in the pocket of special interests and corporations who cannot really claim to represent his constituents back home with a straight face unless that voter owns a lot of coal, oil, or Big Pharma stock. But above all, Barrasso is a partisan flack . He’s the head of the national Republican Policy Committe, and therefore personally accountable for the GOP’s larger ideological campaigns. Thus being in the wheelhouse of the Republican propaganda steamer Doctor No rarely passes up an opportunity to stand before the cameras or microphones to spread the GOP propaganda pathogens

    Sorry, Doctor No, but you personally and your Republican party’s obstruction , obdurance, and obfuscation of Obama and the genuine interests of the American people and Wyoming are far more damaging than Ebola ever could be. Anyone who would politicize an epidemic in Africa to curry favor back home during an election cycle—or ever —is morally and ethically depraved.

    Kerry Drake is right.

  3. WHO’s on first. Barrasso is out in Right Field preaching to the bleacher seats.

    I’m long past the point of apologizing to the rest of the world for Barrasso ( and R. B. Cheney , Babs Cubin , C. Lummis et al- the rabid frothing politicians that Wyoming infests the world with ). Instead, I just say that Barrasso has been a beltway insider since his Georgetown days and internships in D.C ; a career professional politician with the highest ( lowest) of ambitions ; a Senator in the pocket of special interests and corporations who cannot really claim to represent his constituents back home with a straight face unless that voter owns a lot of coal, oil, or Big Pharma stock. But above all, Barrasso is a partisan flack . He’s the head of the national Republican Policy Committe, and therefore personally accountable for the GOP’s larger ideological campaigns. Thus being in the wheelhouse of the Republican propaganda steamer Doctor No rarely passes up an opportunity to stand before the cameras or microphones to spread the GOP propaganda pathogens

    Sorry, Doctor No, but you personally and your Republican party’s obstruction , obdurance, and obfuscation of Obama and the genuine interests of the American people and Wyoming are far more damaging than Ebola ever could be. Anyone who would politicize an epidemic in Africa to curry favor back home during an election cycle—or ever —is morally and ethically depraved.

    Kerry Drake is right.

  4. It’s funny, almost comical Kerry Drake calling John Barrosso’s
    criticism of the ACA “extremely partisan, not based on health or economic
    facts.”

    I have read your ongoing liberal partisan agenda – the far
    left entitlement society ranting about citizens that can think and work to
    improve their lives. So exactly where
    are the facts and health in your rantings?
    Longtime readers of WyoFile – those that have the ability to think on
    their own and not rely on the the government to think for them – know you
    biased and are looking for your continued government handout.

    Explain exactly how you can criticize the right for their
    positions when the drivel that comes from your pen or computer keyboard is
    nothing by left wing communist rantings?
    Why is your left wing rantings any better than so callled rantings from the
    right? The Community Organizer of the
    Free World is doing what he does best – playing political games with the ebola
    crisis. While I do not agree with
    everything Senator Barrasso has to say, he is right about the President playing
    politics yet again.

    Drake cannot even stay on topic…..his has to drag the NRA
    from last weeks rantings into a discussion about Ebola. How does that work? Where are the facts in that – just another
    attempt to rile up his followers with his baseless partisan agenda.

    Lastly, I see the Community Organizer issued a few more
    Executive Orders this week – still waiting for him to issue the Executive Order
    to close the Medicare Gap. Maybe after
    the election since issuing the EO for the Medicare Gap won’t win him any liberal
    votes in the upcoming election. Until
    next week…….

      1. I would have to first drink coffee before switching to decaf…….but I have had my fill of the koolaid being pushed by the entitlement society.

      1. I would have to first drink coffee before switching to decaf…….but I have had my fill of the koolaid being pushed by the entitlement society.

    1. I don’t always agree with Kerry Drake, but his facts are well presented and supported. Barrasso’s shamelessly stupid idea about travel restrictions serve no purpose other than Fox News grandstanding. And his opposition to Murthy has everything to do with the NRA and their corporate backers.

      If you have another view, present it with facts. Besides, insinuating that Drake’s a “liberal” in search of a “handout” (presumably for his position on Obamacare and Mead’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Wyoming) suggests your math may need some help. The state is paying $40 million to prevent people from having health care cover. Right wing ideologues are bleeding the state dry to show their dislike for our President. At least a handout involves someone getting something. The status quo makes Wyoming Republicans appear innumerate or incompetent. Or both. I’d rather have handouts.

    2. I don’t always agree with Kerry Drake, but his facts are well presented and supported. Barrasso’s shamelessly stupid idea about travel restrictions serve no purpose other than Fox News grandstanding. And his opposition to Murthy has everything to do with the NRA and their corporate backers.

      If you have another view, present it with facts. Besides, insinuating that Drake’s a “liberal” in search of a “handout” (presumably for his position on Obamacare and Mead’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Wyoming) suggests your math may need some help. The state is paying $40 million to prevent people from having health care cover. Right wing ideologues are bleeding the state dry to show their dislike for our President. At least a handout involves someone getting something. The status quo makes Wyoming Republicans appear innumerate or incompetent. Or both. I’d rather have handouts.

  5. The truth is he has been working his run up to the Presidency. I am senior citizen and have watched for over 20 years his brainwashing of Wyoming people. He started out on TV with little idiot hints which made no sense then or now. He comes to us via leaflets about nutrition through our Senior Centers . He drives us crazy with his constant Town Hall calls during dinner time. Not to mention his ugly mug in all the political events here and in DC. The guy is narcissistic ,greedy and evil. He doesn’t qualify as dog catcher in WY. Much less the POTUS job he is prepping for.

  6. The truth is he has been working his run up to the Presidency. I am senior citizen and have watched for over 20 years his brainwashing of Wyoming people. He started out on TV with little idiot hints which made no sense then or now. He comes to us via leaflets about nutrition through our Senior Centers . He drives us crazy with his constant Town Hall calls during dinner time. Not to mention his ugly mug in all the political events here and in DC. The guy is narcissistic ,greedy and evil. He doesn’t qualify as dog catcher in WY. Much less the POTUS job he is prepping for.

    1. I believe you have an option (press 1 or 2 on your phone) to discontinue those calls. We would come home and find our entire tape on our answering machine had been used up by the calls. He would be better off representing the state of Texas, especially since the pharmaceutical companies in that state dole out mega dollars to him.

  7. Spot on! Barrasso may have an MD from a good medical school but his limited orthopedic career and tenure as a rodeo doc hardly makes him representative of American medicine. He lacks all understanding of the Affordable Care Act and has continued to repress medical care in Wyoming. He has opposed medicaid expansion and denied care to hundreds of Wyoming children. He is no friend of Wyoming and ignorant about the health care problems in America.