President Biden’s combative speech detailing his plan to impose a vaccine mandate on employers has been met with sharp backlash, but to some, it was a welcome gesture.
The executive order, signed Thursday, mandates that all federal workers and contractors who have dealings with the federal government must be vaccinated against Covid-19, removing the option to continually test for infection that had previously been permitted. The reaction was swift and sharp, highlighting how divisive the new plan has been in pitting vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans against each other.
Not all of the feedback was negative, however. For every defiant, fiery tweet or social media post, there was one from liberals cheering the new policy. For some, such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times, this was a sign of the decisive leadership he wanted:
Today, Joe Biden became president. OK, he already was. But this is huge — a dramatic assertion of his right and duty to protect the American people from harm 1/ https://t.co/xjul6IZ2dw
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) September 9, 2021
I don’t know how it will play politically; I don’t even know how the news media will cover it, whether they’ll de facto take the side of the irresponsible minority. But Biden needed to be bold, and he has surpassed expectations 2/
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) September 9, 2021
For Matthew Miller of MSNBC, the “angry dad vibes” were a reassurance:
Enjoying the angry dad vibes from this Biden speech. He is turning the damn car around.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) September 9, 2021
Others, however, found something concerning and statist in trying to portray the American president in such a paternal role: (** Language warning)
He’s not our father. And turning him into a father figure is creepy cult shit. https://t.co/cowZM9C6Ib
— Sunny McSunnyface (@sunnyright) September 9, 2021
I already had one father. I don’t look to the government for another. https://t.co/k2hvgFJ5Fv
— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) September 9, 2021
Even CNN’s Jake Tapper had mixed feelings about Biden’s approach, which itself became a trending topic on Friday:
Tapper DRAGGED by the left for criticizing Biden’s ‘scolding tone’ against unvaccinated https://t.co/RvSNMDD6YR
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) September 10, 2021
Some felt that this was derailing from a discussion about the situation in Afghanistan:
Can he turn “the damn car around” and pick up those Americans he left in Afghanistan? https://t.co/7KnJQ0QTuK
— Emily Domenech (@ehdomenech) September 9, 2021
Others pointed out that there seems to be a double standard, noting how people seem inclined to cheer on unconstitutional overreach – as long as it’s from their side:
We just spent four years with people telling us the President has too much power, is abusing power, etc. Now many of the same people are okay with the President mandating vaccines. Wait for the next GOP President and hold on.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 10, 2021
What remains without a doubt is that the bitter divine in America over vaccinations, and the political weaponization of the issue, will continue. Ominous statements from the White House have not helped ease fears of an increasingly authoritarian bent in Washington. The direct challenge to Republican governors has prompted an angry response, with legal battle lines quickly being drawn in the sand.
There are even some hints at division within the administration itself over the matter. The White House Chief of Staff, Ronald Klain, openly admitted in a tweet that the new mandate is effectively circumventing the spirit of the constitution (to say nothing of the letter):
WH Chief of Staff might regret this retweet.
Courts consider the intent and purpose of policies and Klain just endorsed the notion that OSHA rule is a “work-around” to enact flagrantly illegal federal vaccine mandates. pic.twitter.com/RBB4ihsIiL
— Matthew Hamilton (@MatthewDavidHa4) September 9, 2021
Regardless of whether the mandate can survive the first contact with the legal system, any semblance of national unity is sure to be the casualty as “us versus them” thinking increasingly dominates the discourse on social media.
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