For the Birds

Hillary recently spoke at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she told her audience that — thanks to President Bush — America is not ready to handle a widespread outbreak of avian flu. 

“The president’s strategy is underfunded and poorly constructed,” said Hill.  “We need a national strategy. … Most experts with whom I have spoken think it’s only a matter of time before it hits our shores.” 

Earlier this year, Sen. Clinton introduced legislation that would require a national tracking system so officials know exactly where vaccines are located for the bird flu and other infectious diseases. 

If this subject sounds familiar, it might be because during the 2004 campaign, Hillary was among the shrillest voices of Democrats accusing President Bush of not stockpiling enough regular flu vaccines. To wit: “[T]hey’re more interested in tax cuts for the rich than in flu shots for everyone who needs them.” 

After the Democrats were routed, however, it ceased to be an issue, and it was subsequently reported that not only was there not a flu shot shortage, but there was a surplus.  And reasonable people understood that having the government become the major buyer of vaccines, as Hillary the health care expert wanted and got in the mid-1990s, makes it financially untenable for most manufacturers to produce the medicine, which is why there are just four U.S. companies making vaccines of any sort today, as compared with 26 in the mid-1960s.