The governors of Texas and Mississippi, both Republicans, declared last week that all COVID-19 limitations would be lifted, allowing life to return to normal.
President Joe Biden, on the other hand, was not happy with the outcome.
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During a meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Biden was asked about the governors’ decision and said it was “a major mistake” and “Neanderthal thought.”
“Look, I hope by now everybody understands that these masks make a difference,” the president said. “Because of the ease with which we can bring vaccines into people’s arms, we’re on the verge of radically changing the existence of this disease. We were able to push it all the way up until the end of May in order to provide enough for every adult American to get a shot.
“The last thing we need is for Neanderthals to believe that all is well in the meantime, that they can take off their masks and forget about it. It’s still important.”
NEW: President Biden calls Texas and Mississippi decisions to end mask mandates “a big mistake" and criticizes what he views as “Neanderthal thinking” after CDC warned against complacency in the face of emerging coronavirus variants on Monday. pic.twitter.com/Mmdln3gNG6
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 3, 2021
“Mississippians don’t need handlers,” said Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves in a tweet. If the numbers decrease, they will be able to evaluate their options and listen to experts. I guess I just believe we can trust rather than ridicule Americans.”
President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is “neanderthal thinking.”
Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 3, 2021
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, retaliated in a Fox News interview, expressing his displeasure.
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On “Fox & Friends,” Abbott said, “First, it’s clearly not the sort of thing a president should be saying.” “But, second, he said that on the worst possible day, since the Biden administration was releasing illegal immigrants with COVID into our neighborhoods on the same day he said it in Texas.”
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) March 4, 2021
Biden has a history of gaffes and blunders in both formal and informal settings. Typically, one of his employees would attempt to justify the remark or actually confess to making a mistake.
This isn’t the case.
“Does the president have any second thoughts about the terminology that he used yesterday?” a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her Thursday media briefing. And how does contrasting someone to a “Neanderthal” persuade them to change their minds and embrace the public health message?”
She went on to say that Biden’s remark was “a reflection of his anger and exasperation, which I believe many Americans share, that for nearly a year now, people around the country have suffered and, many times, they haven’t had the information they need from the federal government.”
Psaki said, “They haven’t had access to a greater understanding of what public health recommendations might look like.” “And that includes a large number of people in Mississippi, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and around the country.”
The idea is that without clear instructions from the federal government, Americans are powerless.
According to Psaki, the consequence of this supposed lack of knowledge is governors’ “Neanderthal action” in allowing Americans to make their own decisions on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
As Reeves suggested, the Biden administration seems to think you need a handler.
The bottom line is that talking about “Neanderthal behavior” isn’t all that different from talking about “Neanderthal thought.”
Biden and Psaki can say all they like that they’re talking about policies rather than individuals, but their core point is that wishing for a normal life free of government-imposed coronavirus constraints is the same as behaving like a Neanderthal.
I’m not sure what they mean by that, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a positive thing.