Biden, Republicans and the Pandemic Blame Game
President Biden is in a tough spot: he campaigned on the idea that he had the team to handle a pandemic and that his five-decade career as a negotiator in Washington was just the ticket to overcoming the political polarization of the country.
It doesn’t happen, not even a little.
Not only are Republicans resisting pressure from Mr Biden to end the pandemic, some of them are actively hindering it. Republican governors have slowed vaccination efforts and lifted mask mandates early. In Washington, GOP leaders like Steve Scalise, the second House Republican – who himself only got vaccinated about two weeks ago – mocked public health advice that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors as “government control”.
There isn’t much Mr. Biden can do. Nearly a year and a half of the pandemic has revealed precisely who will and will not meet public health guidelines.
Just last week, in my Washington neighborhood, which has one of the highest immunization rates in the city and voted 92% for Mr. Biden, people started to hide in supermarkets and even outdoors in parks.
In places like Arkansas, hospitals are overloaded with Covid patients and vaccination rates remain stubbornly low. Anti-mask sentiment is so strong that the state’s General Assembly passed a law banning any mandate requiring them. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, on Thursday declared a special session of the legislature to change this anti-mandate law he signed in April so that schools are allowed to require masks for students too young to receive a vaccine. Good luck with that, replied his fellow Republicans in the legislature.
This leaves the president in a bind. As the Delta variant is proving to be much more contagious and dangerous than previous iterations of the virus, the people it needs most to hear its message about vaccines and masks are the least likely to do so.
Six years in which Donald J. Trump has largely blocked all other votes in his party has left Republicans without a credible messenger to push vaccines, even if they wanted to. Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell may be using his campaign money to run vaccine ads in his native Kentucky, but he is not a beloved figure within the party and is considered by its base to be just another member of the Washington establishment.
There are certainly other communities of vaccine resistant, including the demographics of people who have historically been abused by the federal government (as well as a small but vocal minority of professional athletes and Olympians), but it’s Republicans and Republican-led states that have become the biggest obstacle to America’s vaccination efforts.
With little ability to persuade the hesitant and little help from the party he had pledged to work with, Mr Biden and the federal government were left with a decision he had resisted for weeks: to make life harder for the unvaccinated, to try to force them to change their minds. opinion.
Which brings us to the president’s press conference on Thursday. Mr Biden said that, for the first time, all federal employees would have to prove they have been vaccinated (or wear a mask at work), submit to weekly tests and maintain social distancing.
He stopped ahead of a vaccine warrant, saying such a requirement was a decision by local governments, school districts and businesses. He said if things got worse and people who were resistant to vaccines were denied entry to jobs and public spaces, then maybe things would get better.
“I guess if we don’t start making more progress, a lot of companies and a lot of companies are going to require proof for you to participate,” Biden said.
This maneuver – essentially a transfer of responsibility from the federal government – is consistent with how Mr. Biden often tries to project a hopeful tone while portraying the reality of a radically divided nation.
The disinformation market in America is bigger than ever, with Mr Trump launching the program that led to the full vaccination of 164 million Americans, leading the charge of discrediting the same program under the Biden administration .
But it was not Mr. Trump and the Republicans who came forward last year to end the pandemic – it was Mr. Biden and the Democrats who managed to make the election a referendum on the management of a unique global public health crisis in a century.
Now, just weeks after celebrating the great strides made against the pandemic, Mr Biden is facing a new wave. And it probably won’t be long before Republicans who have done everything they can to resist countermeasures to tackle it begin to blame the president for not pulling the country out of the crisis he is committed to solving.
“VERY EXCITED. SO PROUD,” Ka Lo, a member of the Marathon County Board of Directors, wrote Thursday in a series of jubilant text messages. “THIS IS TOO GOOD !!!”
It remains to be seen to what extent Ms. Lee’s triumph gives a boost to local efforts for Hmong recognition in Wisconsin. Marathon County and Wausau City Council rejected “Community for All” resolutions, prompting a proliferation of “Community for All” road signs and another effort to push the measure through County Council.
The next county council executive committee vote is scheduled for August 12.
sometimes even presidents have schmutz on their chins.
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