Science and facts are not new themes to be pushed on Caffeinated Politics. While a robust and even frothy back-and-forth should evolve on the issues of the day there can never be the skirting of logic and reason. When those are jettisoned all that is left are the rabble shouting. As such, I am most dismayed at what is happening in our nation over the use of face masks during the pandemic. I can not even fathom needing to post such a line in 2020.
Face coverings have sadly emerged as a political Rorschach test. Republican leaders are less likely to mandate them, and Republican voters are more likely to forgo, and even scorn, them. We can only wonder when these conservatives will wish to bring back the cutting edge of leeches to ward off illness!
Joe Biden donned a face mask for a few minutes Monday as he laid a wreath at a Delaware war memorial. He wore it again, briefly, when CNN’s Dana Bash came to his home for an outdoor interview.
The president could hardly stop talking about this. On Memorial Day, President Trump tweeted a bit of snark about Biden’s mask from a former Fox News host; on Wednesday he tweeted the same thing, adding a personal assessment that Biden “looks better!” On Thursday morning, the president retweeted an article that went even further, warning that a pandemic masking requirement “provides the foundation on which governments continue to justify emergency measures and rule by executive fiat.”
“So many different viewpoints!” added the president. His campaign is running ads showing Biden with a mask near a Chinese flag while Trump, mask-free, stands in front of an American flag.
To the amazement of Democrats, the president has consistently put himself on the unpopular side of a not particularly divisive issue: whether to wear a mask while in public spaces. He has done so while elevating a series of stories that have had no noticeable impact on public opinion, or opinions of Biden, beyond his already-loyal base. The result: a campaign full of accusations and battles in the culture war, with no detectable impact on voters.
“It’s the Trump administration’s own recommendation,” Biden digital director Rob Flaherty said of wearing a mask. “The idea that we’re going to be on our back foot on something people support? We think it’s a great opportunity for the VP to lean in.”
Polling has consistently found that most Americans are comfortable wearing masks when they go outside or mingle in public and that they would like to see the president do the same. In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month, 72 percent of voters said that the president should wear a mask when he goes out; in a Quinnipiac poll last week, 67 percent of registered voters said the same. In the first poll, 48 percent of Republicans recommended a mask for the president, and in the second, 38 percent did.
Plenty of elected Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and several red state governors, have embraced pandemic masks. Conservative media, which the president pays close attention to, largely hasn’t. There have been exceptions, such as Fox’s Sean Hannity telling viewers that a “temporary” mask policy would do no harm: “Do it for your Mom, your Dad, your Grandma, your Grandpa.”
If being a mask wearer means I am a smug liberal, let it also be stated I care about my health and am determined those in my home will make it through this pandemic. I take the pandemic seriously and am most willing to make a personal sacrifice to save lives.
I have no idea why conservatives would not join in with this most human approach. One would think their often claimed love of ‘family issues’ would make wearing a mask a no-brainer.
Perhaps no brains might be more the case with those folks then we originally thought.