The dim reaper is at it again. We need, President Biden tells us, to wear masks forever, to avoid ‘more cases and more desks…deaths…look…’
Look, fat: the number of desks has fallen in Texas and Florida, where mask-wearing in public is optional, while desks are rising in New York and New Jersey, where mask-wearing in public is required. It looks like COVID-19 works just like public-school teachers: differently in red states and blue ones.
Biden uses the phrase ‘mask mandate’ like it’s already been approved, in the way that voters grant a mandate to an elected authority. But it hasn’t been voted for or approved. It’s a proposal from a president who parrots whatever the CDC tell him. It’s up to the state governors to approve or disapprove his suggestion. Not all of them have ordered their citizens to mask up everywhere at all times. Most of them seem to understand most of their voters. Such is democracy.
The ‘mask mandate’ isn’t democracy: it’s politicized bureaucratic overreach. So is preventing the media from seeing the cages packed with children at the southern border. So is blocking Ted Cruz from filming them. And so is calling for vaccination passports.
The administration attacks any tightening of this country’s baggy electoral laws as Jim Crow by any other name. So how come it’s now fine and noble to encourage everyone, and we mean everyone, to vote — but exclude the unvaccinated from attending sporting events?
The unvaccinated are disproportionately poor and non-white. So they would suffer most from vaccine-based exclusions. In functional terms, mandatory vaccination passports would be the Jim Eagle of class and race discrimination. Yet an administration obsessed with the atmospherics of imaginary slights is floating a proposal to bureaucratically disenfranchise black people. This is incoherent, knee-jerk control-freakery. Desk, where is thy sting?
In one of his election debates with Donald Trump, Biden promised non-stop, universal masking if he became president. He was then informed that even the president can’t do that. He had to settle for compulsory masking in federal buildings. This isn’t too onerous: most sensible people avoid stepping foot in federal buildings unless it’s strictly necessary. When they do, it’s with that feeling described by Rochelle Walensky of the CDC, a ‘recurring feeling’ of ‘impending doom’.
‘Right now, I’m scared,’ says the doom-stricken doctor. Right now, after a year of the CDC’s mixed messaging and stop-start predictions, we’re all tired of politicized bumbling and manipulative sentimentality. It’s obvious that masking in public has, like going to work in a school, become a red state-blue state issue: the red-staters show their teeth and display their defiance, the blue-staters signal their virtue and cower behind their paper muzzles. When Biden wheezes ‘Please, it’s not politics’, his begging gives it away.
Biden is high in the polls because Trump’s vaccines and Trump’s push to reopen the economy are working. It was Biden who said ‘you can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis’. Do the Democratic desk jockeys want a permanent emergency because it’s good for numbers? An unending crisis defers the day when they have to take full responsibility, rather than blaming the difficult bits on Donald Trump.
This new bout of mask-clutching seems less compulsory than compulsive. We have enough data now to know that wearing a mask in the street is essentially performative, while wearing one in an enclosed space can save lives.
I have a recurring feeling that we’re governed by fools.