Overselling swine flu

I’ve been wondering about swine flu since the time the English papers were full of panic-stricken reports that a perfectly healthy child had died of swine flu. Upon reading the details, it became clear that she had only died of it after first suffering through the medical equivalent of getting run over by a truck twice:

If you’ve been diagnosed “probable” or “presumed” 2009 H1N1 or “swine flu” in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn’t have H1N1 flu. In fact, you probably didn’t have flu at all. That’s according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation.

What I don’t understand is why the medical authorities seem so determined to see an epidemic of one sort or another take place. First bird flu, now swine flu, and in two years time we’ll probably be instructed to quake with fear over the lethal dangers posed by Malaysian Spitting Frog Flu. I’ve never seen anything like the media coverage of medical matters like the last five years. Even the height of the AIDS scare was nothing like this.

Is that really a good thing?

Chad the Elder writes of the new conservative critic-in-chief:

It might seem unlikely that a man who was born in Quebec, trained as a psychiatrist, once a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, and a writer for the New Republic would become one of the foremost conservative critics of the Age of Obama. But fate has worked in favor of conservatives in the case of Krauthammer and we’re fortunate to have his voice leading the resistance.

While I think Krauthammer is a less obtuse individual than most of the big op/ed names, I think the constant elevation of non-conservatives to positions of conservative leadership in the media is one reason that the conservative movement continues to find itself in such intellectual disarray. Why are they so reluctant to elevate those who are genuine conservatives and have always been genuine conservatives rather than liberals who belatedly claim to have seen the light?

But the fact that Krauthammer may be reliably correct in his analysis of Obama doesn’t mean that his ideology is reliably compatible with the conservative grass roots, and indeed, I note that he supported TARP even if he subsequently turned against the automotive bailouts. He has also been generally supportive of the neocon’s world democratic revolution, which is a profoundly non-conservative position of zero national interest to Americans. So, if Krauthammer does, in fact, become the chief voice of the ideological opposition, I suspect conservatives will once again find themselves regretting what was always more of a temporary alignment of anti-Obama interests rather than genuine ideological opinion leadership.

This isn’t a criticism of Krauthammer. He’s just doing his job and I’m merely pointing out what I think to be the obvious. Conservatives need actual conservative leadership and they need to stop settling for liberals, neocons, and nominally reformed liberals as their intellectual leaders. My feeling is that anyone who supported the banking bailouts, much less dismissed opposition to them as “know-nothingism” should be completely disqualified from any sort of conservative leadership, opinion or otherwise. If you’re capable of falling for demands for money from the cynical Chicken Littles of the world, you’re far too much of a naif to be a conservative leader.