How does a political regime go bankrupt of legitimacy? Gradually, then suddenly.
Apologies. My hands experienced early onset arthritis after invoking that achingly tired cliché. But I couldn’t think of a more apt description of the swift ripensamento liberals are having on COVID restrictions.
Mark your historic calendar: on February 7th, 2022, the donkey signal alit America’s blessed firmament. The man who illuminated it from atop the White House was, of all likely suspects, Biden’s executive retainer Ron Klain. The President would have yanked the klieg light lever could he mount a flight of stairs more than four steps. Instead, he probably handed Klain the message to recapitulate before trying to trace one of his son’s abstract watercolors on his Magna Doodle.
The big blue burro in the sky carried one directive for Democrats from Albany to Denver: time to donkey kick the science, the midterm elections are at stake!
That day, in conspicuous convergence, a host of Democratic officials announced an easing on mask-and-vax mandates. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was chosen as the first plank-walker. He declared the virus endemic and urged his state’s residents “to learn to live with COVID.” Rep. Ted Lieu, one of the most outspoken progressives and truants in Congress, tweeted that “pandemic restrictions will be lifted sooner rather than later.” California, Delaware, Connecticut, and Oregon followed suit. The next day, New York Governor Kathy Hochul ended the state’s mask directive for businesses—leaving it in place for schools. Rep. Sean Maloney, also of New York, echoed the sentiment, announcing “it’s time to give people their lives back.”
That last part, to quote Art Spiegelman, had the “breath of autocracy and fascism about it.” I suppose us wretched masses should be grateful that selfless leaders like Congressman Maloney, in their ever-brimming magnanimity, are granting us our “lives.” Avē, Imperātor Maloney! With an attitude like that, the Big Apple-bedroom-community envoy is lucky January 6th was an isolated incident and not a daily occurrence, with tumbrils steel-bolted on First Street.
Even Dr. Doomsayer himself, the great and wise and smart-as-whip-cracker Anthony Fauci, averred that we’re departing the “full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19.” Well, hallelujah! From Fauci’s wrinkled, Brunello-slicked lips to God’s ears.
Don’t misunderstand my jocularity: liberal lawmakers pumping the brakes on forced masking is a welcome development. But the White House is wise enough to know that politicians have as much marketing acumen as Emily Dickinson. Yes, Fauci has reached demigod status on the left—so much so his likeness graces votive candles—but your standard rank-and-file Dem rep. has the sales charisma of late-night PBS membership drive host. So the media puppet strings were also pulled to reinforce the messaging.
CNN’s house medical expert Dr. Leana Wen declared “the science has changed,” justifying the disregard of pandemic restrictions, despite calling for vaccine passports not six months ago. The Washington Post went into air-cover mode, generously in-kind donating its copy space to rationalize the liberal COVID flip-flop. In “Abrupt end to mask mandates reflects a shifting political landscape,” numerous Democratic officials are cited explaining why they’re ditching maw-covering requirements. The poli-nerd blog known as Politico Playbook got in the mix, reporting that “some House Democrats are following the lead of Democratic governors” on doffing masks.
Then there was the outright coordination, with CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins underhand pitching an inquiry to CDC director Rochelle Wolensky on whether Americans should heed the direction of the immuno-bureaucracy, which still recommends public mask usage, or their governors. In a rare instance of bureaucratic hara-kiri, Wolensky replied, “We’ve always said that these decisions are going to have to be made at the local level.”
Talk about kneecapping yourself. Now, if only Secretary Mayorkas would endorse governors kicking the TSA out of airports and Mayor Pete said nuts to highway speed limits, we’d really be getting somewhere as a country.
You don’t have to believe that Joe Biden is a Life-Model Decoy and Donald Trump is still calling the shots off the mainland coast in a retroreflective-paneled frigate to sense something is up. Three weeks ago the Omicron variant was zipping through the country faster than the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Every kid in America—including mine—was singing 🎵My coughs have a first name, it’s C-O-V-I-D. My coughs have a second name, it’s N-I-N-E-T-E…🎵*Kuh! Kuh! Kuh! Haaaack*. Just as the Omicron wave was cresting, Virginia’s newly inaugurated Republican governor was labeled a murderer in the press for banning mask mandates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has long been accused of committing kiddie genocide for spiking compulsory masking in schools.
With so many blue states dropping coercive masking for nakedly political concerns, you may find yourself like Padmé Amidala asking if COVID mandates weren’t grounded in sound science all along. If Democrats are saying sayonara to N95s now, that means they were never really all that necessary, right? And, of course, any leftist bearing his pale white teeth for the first time in two years will simply grin knowingly in return, content they sacrificed younglings for a political cudgel.
What leftists aren’t eager to admit is that their COVID relaxation pivot is based on a specific science: political science. Joe Biden’s approval rating is south of 40%. Likewise, some 64% of parents are over Zoom schooling.
Democrats can’t read constituent mail begging for a return to normalcy. But they can read polls, and thus the tea leaves of their political future. Grocery store parking lots are about to be littered with even more disposable masks—especially in blue states. Just remember, those who spent the past two years gladly recycling their carbon dioxide are following a new science: the science of electability.
It was the only science they cared about from the beginning.