For anyone who has followed Joe Biden’s political career, the image he presented of himself during the 2020 campaign was a laughable contrivance. Biden as paternalistic bridge-builder with an inviolable commitment to courtesy and collegiality made for a strong contrast with his compulsively churlish opponent. But the president was never the “good cop” he pretended to be.
We got a fleeting glimpse of the real Joe Biden on Wednesday following the edict of two Republican governors that will lift many statewide COVID restrictions. “I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden said of the decision by the governors of Texas and Mississippi to ease pandemic-related proscriptions, including mask mandates. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.”
It would have been foolish if, for example, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told his constituents that “everything’s fine” and Texans should “take off your mask” and “forget” about the pandemic. But that wasn’t what he said, nor is that likely to be the outcome of his state’s policies.
What Abbott announced was that “all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100 percent.” The executive orders put in place during the pandemic, including masking requirements, would be rescinded because “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.” It would have been a premature declaration of victory over the pandemic if Abbott had stopped there. But he didn’t.
Abbott also urged Texans to exercise “personal vigilance.” “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” the governor added. While his orders will foreclose on criminal penalties for people who do not wear masks, businesses can still impose masking requirements on their patrons and deny them service if they do not comply. Biden’s reaction to the move might lead you to believe that Texas is the first state in the Union to withdraw such edicts and that reckless mouth-breathing troglodytes will soon overrun the state as a result. In fact, Texas is now the 15th state without a universal masking ordinance. It joins states such as Georgia, Arizona, and Florida where, despite the occasional viral video to the contrary, masking is a self-reinforcing social norm just as it is in much of the country.
Meanwhile in Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont’s Big Reopening Move Drops Capacity Limits for Restaurants, Retail, Offices.
Will Biden call this decision by a Democrat governor neanderthal thinking as well?