05/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Swine Flu Challenge

Swine flu politics is back. It helped claim the career of a president more than 30 years ago. As if Barack Obama needed any more headaches.

fordswineflu.gifGerald Ford's
decision to inoculate every person in the country (including himself) resulted in a political debacle that contributed to a reputation for incompetence that scuttled his 1976 election bid. The vaccination program was plagued by delays and became a public relations nightmare as Ford was accused, perhaps unfairly, of coddling drug companies aiming to profit from the scare. By the time the program was canceled only about 24% of the population was inoculated - and the president ended up looking foolish.

The Obama Administration quickly called attention to this latest outbreak, putting pressure on itself to do something. Tread carefully, Mr. President.

Craig blogs daily at on CQ Politics