“The future is certain; it is only the past that is unpredictable.” So goes an old Soviet joke. This week we are getting a taste of how unpredictable the past can be as Democrat figureheads abandon mask mandates and socially distance themselves from now-toxic lockdown policies.
On Monday, four Democrat governors announced rollbacks of indoor mask mandates in their states: California’s Gavin Newsom, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy, Delaware’s John Carney, and Connecticut’s Ned Lamont. Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown has since followed their lead.
The synchronised dispatches came as CNN medical analyst (and onetime mask evangelist) Leana Wen argued “the responsibility should shift from a government mandate imposed from the state… to an individual responsibility.”
For those with short-term memory loss, to advocate for individual responsibility was — until five minutes ago — to wish for the death of grandmothers everywhere. Now it’s science, apparently. “Circumstances have changed,” Wen urged. “The science has changed.”
In fact, the science hasn’t changed. Three examples of new science were mustered by Wen. Her first was that “vaccines protect very well against omicron” — a less-than-certain claim that in any case applied to past variants.
“Everyone five and older have widespread access to vaccines,” was Wen’s second line of evidence. But young children have always been at an extremely low risk of bad Covid-19 outcomes and have never posed an outsized risk to others.
A third alleged scientific update suggested by Wen was one-way masking: “the idea that even if other people around you are not wearing masks, if you wear a high-quality mask, that also protects you”. In what conceivable way is this insight new?
Leana Wen has also finally conceded a point made by pro-freedom advocates for a full two years, that masks cause incalculable damage to children’s learning. And this, after another recent admission that cloth masks are — gasp — “little more than facial decorations”.
Perhaps the most remarkable fact about Democrats’ abandonment of Covid mandates is that they come as more people are dying of Covid-19 in the United States than any time previously, save for last winter’s peak.
So if the science hasn’t changed, what has?
In a word, President Joe Biden’s ratings ahead of the 2022 midterms. As the Brownstone Institute’s Jeff Tucker quipped, “here is the science that is causing Democrats to flee lockdowns/mandates/masking as fast as possible,” while posting a chart of Biden’s plunging polls.
Two years is clearly too long for most Americans, with heavy-handed government interventions now ticking over from contested to politically destructive.
Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki knows it. When pressed about the recent Johns Hopkins study showing that lockdowns reduced Covid-19 mortality by a meagre 0.2 percent in the US and Europe, Psaki offered her defence: “We are not pushing lockdowns, we’ve not been pro-lockdown — most of the lockdowns actually happened under the previous President.”
This is of course news to 2021 Jen Psaki, who lamented that “this entire country is paying the price” for red state governors who were rolling back restrictions — and who condemned any state leaders banning mandates, demanding that they “get out of the way”.
If you’re at all tempted to rewrite history in your own mind, check out this in-depth analysis by WalletHub from April 2021, which couldn’t be clearer in affirming the commitment of blue states to mask mandates and lockdown policies.
The science hasn’t changed. The political winds have. It is now up to US voters to decide whether those currently rewriting history deserve to be in control of the next chapter.