RCP Morning Note, 04/26/2017: Fired-Up Dems; Trump’s Tax Plan; Melania’s First 100 Days; ‘Polio Pioneers’

04/26/2017
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Carl Cannon’s Morning Note

Fired-Up Dems; Trump’s Tax Plan; Melania’s First 100 Days; ‘Polio Pioneers’

By Carl M. Cannon on Apr 26, 2017 08:39 am
Good morning, it’s Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Sixty-three years ago today, in an elementary school cafeteria in McLean, Va., a young physician began inoculating children against polio. Then, as now, a few frightened parents shied away from such vaccinations. The first mass trial had been scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. — until an April 4, 1954 radio and television broadcast by famous gossip columnist Walter Winchell. “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea," Winchell intoned in his famous sign-on. “In a few moments, I will report on a new polio vaccine claimed to be a polio cure. It may be a killer." Winchell was wrong, of course. But if it hadn’t been for faithful parents in Virginia — those dubbed “Polio Pioneers" in the press — hysteria may have carried the day. I’ll explain why it didn’t in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * 100 Days: Trump’s Rocky Start Fires Up Dazed Dems. The fractured minority aims to turn the president’s unpopularity into big wins in 2018, Caitlin Huey-Burns writes. Trump Eager to ‘Sell’ Tax Plan to Voters, Priebus Says. The White House chief of staff discussed the president’s strategy ahead of Wednesday’s rollout, reports Alexis Simendinger. Melania’s 100 Days: Slowly Growing Into First Lady Role. Emily Goodin has details. Trump, Act 1: All Drama, No Action. Mark Salter pans the president’s performance in his first 100 days. Dem Lawmakers Seek Details on Legality of Syria Strikes. James Arkin has the story. Liberals, Worry About Citizens’ Character, Not Just Trump’s. Richard V. Reeves writes that the health and progress of the republic requires more than holding our leaders to a high standard. Don’t Let Multinational Corporations Derail Tax Reform. In RealClearPolicy, Joshua Baca urges GOP lawmakers not to heed calls for a border adjustment tax. How the Welfare State Helps China. In RealClearWorld, Dan Blumenthal argues that cuts in military spending have given Beijing the upper hand in Asia. First, Do No Harm to Patients With Pre-Existing Conditions. In RealClearHealth, John Meigs Jr. discusses how the AHCA takes a major step backward in regards to health security for those with pre-existing conditions. Does Crime Pay When It Comes to Fake Drugs? Also in RCH, Steve Posciask explains why law enforcement is ill-equipped to deal with a growing crisis. Top 10 NFL Draft Sleepers. Cory Gunkel and Ben Krimmel compiled this list in RealClearSports. * * * In Northern Virginia, and everywhere else in America, the very word “polio" would spark dread in parents. Salvation arrived in the form of a vaccine administered by skin prick (and, later, a sugar cube, taken orally) developed by Jonas E. Salk at the University of Pittsburgh. First, the country had to face down is own fright. At the outset of the Great Depression, more than two decades earlier, a U.S. president had warned his countrymen that the only thing they had to fear was fear itself. Franklin Roosevelt’s own physical persona reminded Americans that this was brave talk, but also hyperbole. This great man himself had been stricken by polio, a disease that not only paralyzed its victims, but paralyzed parents worried sick about their children. Although Dr. Salk had tested the vaccine on himself and his three sons, along with some 7,500 western Pennsylvania schoolchildren, it needed a mass trial. And now, in the spring of 1954, Salk’s discovery was scheduled to be administered to more than 400,000 youngsters in a nationwide field test. But then Walter Winchell reported breathlessly that the U.S. Public Health Services had found live polio viruses in seven vaccine batches it had tested in the lab. “It killed several monkeys," Winchell told his radio and television audience. “The United States Public Health Service will confirm this in about 10 days." Although this report was not true, it was enough to spook parents in Washington, D.C., and the planned inoculation there was cancelled. Across the Potomac River, in Fairfax County, the question was put to the PTA: to vaccinate or not? “Polio was a terrible fear," a McLean mother named Marjorie Adams recalled some five decades later. When your child fell sick with a cold or their body ached, you never knew." What she meant was that you never knew what would happen to that child. At Chesterbrook Elementary School in McLean, a first-grade teacher announced one day that the boy who sat behind Adams’ daughter Gail had contracted polio and would not be coming back to school. His desk remained vacant for the rest of the year, and children and their parents were left wondering what had become of him. “It hit overnight," Gail Adams later remembered. “You were a healthy kid bouncing around playing and then — bam! — you came down with a fever and then this paralysis would take you over." Gail and her friends would walk by the boy’s house wondering what had happened to him, whether he had ended up in an iron lung — or had died. “People were really scared, and some of the schools were closed," Richard Mulvaney, one of the physicians who administered the vaccine, later said while recalling that fateful April 26, 1954 morning. But Mulvaney had faith in the science. Taking his cue from Jonas Salk, Mulvaney first used the vaccine on his own three kids before giving it to other people’s children at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean. Marjorie Adams, who had raised her hand at a Chesterbrook PTA meeting when volunteers were asked for, drove her 6-year-old daughter over to Franklin Sherman that morning for her shot. Many years later, Gail remembered knowing that she was “getting to do something special." “I was scared I would cry," she recalled. But this “Polio Pioneer" did not cry. And afterward she was taken to a soda fountain where she ordered a chocolate sundae in a silver dish. “I was proud, but I can’t take the credit," she explained. “My mother and my father were the brave ones." Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

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