Monday, November 29, 2021


Here's a Washington Post headline:

How did reporters Annie Linskey and Fenit Nirappil determine that the public has little appetite for new pandemic restrictions? They spoke to the following people:
* "Ezekiel Emanuel, a physician and bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who was on President Biden’s covid advisory team during the transition" (and who is Rahm Emanuel's brother)

* "Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s top public health official"

* "Robert Wachter, who chairs the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco"
They quoted President Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients, British prime minister Boris Johnson, Trump-backed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Trump-backing congressman and former White House physician Ronny Jackson, and Democratic governors Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.

In other words they determined that the public won't tolerate new COVID restrictions without talking to any members of the general public, or to anyone who's surveyed public opinion on the subject. So when they write, "But after nearly 21 months of covid-19 restrictions, there is little appetite in the country for the kinds of school closures, indoor-gathering bans and restaurant restrictions that defined the early days of the pandemic," it's "according to health officials, who say the political will to push for unpopular — but effective — mitigation measures is waning." Never mind the fact that the only people who actually say this are Dr. Emanuel, who left full-time government work a decade ago and is primarily a professor, and Dr. Wachter, who's also a professor.

No ordinary citizen is quoted. No pollster is quoted. We just have to take the word of "experts" that, as Dr. Emanuel says, “The American public is rightfully exhausted," and that, as Dr. Wachter says, “The threshold to shut things down is going to be much higher than it was."

It's obvious what's happening here: Republicans are vehemently opposed to any COVID mitigation measures and Democrats are afraid of Republicans, so we won't do what we need to do, and what other countries are already doing, to minimize the suffering caused by the omicron variant because we allow the GOP to have a veto over nearly every area of public policy, whether Republicans represent the majority or not. (On so many issues -- guns, abortion, taxation of the rich, climate change, and now COVID, they don't.) The press hears the loudest voices -- angry rural white Republicans with guns, along with the politicians who encourage their outrage -- and assumes they represent consensus opinion.

They don't. The public has been strongly supportive of mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and other mitigation strategies, but we defer to the right because the right is noisy and intimidating. And these Post writers don't even understand that that's what's happening.

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