As we previously reported, the White House bashed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, both Republicans, in March after they both announced they were lifting their mask mandates and setting the stage for businesses to be able to be fully open and operational again.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed at the time that “this entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic.”
President Biden piled on by insinuating that red-state governors were going to roll back progress. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease,” he stated. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.”
Except three weeks later the data showed there was no massive outbreak in Texas. And a month after that, the numbers showed that red states like Texas and Florida were continuing to do better case-wise than blue states like New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Now that the CDC updated its guidelines this week to note that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors “in most settings,” Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy revisited Biden’s “Neanderthal” comments during today’s press briefing and in the process got Psaki to make an important admission – even though she probably didn’t realize it.
Doocy pointed to stats from the CDC’s website that he said showed “only 45.6% of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated as of yesterday. Only 58.9% of the adult population has at least one dose.” With that in mind, Doocy asked Psaki “what happened to President Biden saying in March that he thought lifting mask mandates ‘before every adult American goes and gets a shot’ is ‘Neanderthal thinking’?”
Psaki tried pivoting to the default “we have just been following the science/listening to medical experts” argument, but Doocy didn’t let her slide.
“So does the President still think that these red-state Governors who were a little ahead of the federal government lifting the mask mandates had ‘Neanderthal thinking’?”
It’s then that Psaki gave the answer she and Biden should have given back in March. She said in so many words that each state’s case numbers and vaccination rates were different and that the federal guidelines were not meant to “tell” states what policies “they should implement” and that states needed to respond accordingly based on their respective data.
She did tack on a veiled cheap shot at the end about how the White House had been letting experts guide the decision-making process rather than politics, as though red-state governors don’t have their own health and medical experts that they consult with before making decisions.
That’s about as close as we’re going to get to this administration admitting that they blew their response to Abbott’s and Reeves’ decision to lift mask mandates back in March. More importantly, it was a tacit admission of sorts that each state is different and that governors need to make decisions based on their respective situations – a point former President Trump repeatedly tried to make last year but was routinely trashed over.
Will the MSM pick up on that point? I doubt it, but I found it rather revealing and emblematic of this White House’s persistent messaging issues on the coronavirus vaccine and CDC guidelines.