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The liberal justices are as dizzy as the rest of us from the political spin.
While not as awful as some said, the Supreme Court’s performance during oral arguments over the Biden vaccine mandate for private workplaces was hardly the Court’s finest hour. Half way around the world, Australia’s big national newspaper took notice with the headline, “Top US judges slip up on facts of pandemic.”
Some slams were unfair. Justice Gorsuch didn’t say hundreds of thousands people die of the flu every year, but hundreds, thousands. Justice Breyer merely misspoke when he said 750 million Americans were testing positive each day. Justice Sotomayor didn’t quite slur unvaccinated Americans as “virus spewing machines.”
But the discussion was bad enough, confused by 24 months of incoherent government messaging about Covid. Justice Breyer declared it “unbelievable that it could be in the public interest to suddenly stop these vaccinations,” as if he imagined the Biden mandate had already taken effect and was playing an important role in the vaccinating of America. Not true. A large majority of the U.S. population has already been vaccinated; the mandate targets only 25% of the population, the private workforce, most of whom have already received the shot voluntarily or at their employer’s behest. At least half have also likely been infected and acquired natural immunity. And given an average age of 42, this sub-population hardly represents a bullseye on the lingering unvaccinated older cohort most likely to end up in the hospital.
In other words, the Biden workplace mandate, even if approved, is destined to have a negligible, almost invisible, impact on either vaccination rates or the unfolding of the pandemic.
On the latter point, the well-advertised blunder of Justice Kagan, her statement that vaccination was the “best way to prevent spread,” suggested she hadn’t heard of Delta or Omicron, both of which the vaccinated can transmit. This alone guts the incoherent argument for requiring workers in private workplaces to be vaccinated so private workplaces can be safe for unvaccinated workers.
The worst moment was Justice Sotomayor’s claim that Omicron was filling up the hospitals with kids, “many on ventilators.” The Washington Post awarded her four Pinocchios, adding censoriously, “It’s important for Supreme Court justices to make rulings based on correct data.”
The last bit was perhaps unfair. Ms. Sotomayor wasn’t offering legal reasoning but a “think of the children” soundbite to comfort liberals even as the administration’s workplace mandate likely doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance when the Court eventually rules.
When we have exhausted every other Covid mystery, we will get to the real mystery: Why was it necessary for so long to pretend Covid can be defeated and eradicated? Poor liberals on the court, they fell last week into a warp of bad political timing. The administration for which they feel such solicitude is engaged in a painfully deliberate waltz, with more trial balloons than you can count, as the president tries to finesse his way to acknowledging a truth that every American already knows in his or her bones.
As this newspaper’s headline put it last Thursday, “Biden, in Shift, Prepares Americans to See Covid-19 as Part of Life,” though as of Tuesday the water-testing still had not resulted in said shift. Instead, Team Biden ran off to Georgia to insist, at whatever cost to future peace and domestic tranquility, that the American voting booth is besieged by white supremacists. The only salvation is a convenient wish list of Democratic voting “reforms” unlikely to pass the Senate except by finagling the rules in a way that will have the opposite effect of establishing more public confidence in our elections.
In Mr. Biden, we are not seeing one of our more Lincolnesque presidents, we are seeing one whose approach to Covid and most other things is roughly similar to his approach to law school: almost get kicked out for plagiarism, finish near the bottom of his class, then pretend he finished at the top.
Understand: The change that is looming is not a change in mere policy, with actual consequences for the public, but a change in the administration’s all-important, self-interested political messaging. And it will be painful for Mr. Biden. The administration will have to give up its fondest hope and only battle plan. “Biden defeats Covid” is not a headline it will be seeing to justify his presidency in time for either the 2022 or 2024 elections.
In the first weeks, I mistakenly suggested the new president faced a “heavy lift” in preparing Americans for Covid remaining a health threat for decades to come. The heavy lift he faces is different. It consists of shifting the federal healthcare establishment, including Dr. Fauci, to a new, more candid tune without prompting a flurry of headlines saying Mr. Biden, who promised to defeat the virus, has instead been defeated by it.
Courtesy : Wall Street Journal