“If the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive. All the people — I’m not making this up. Just look at the data. Look at the data,” Biden intoned to a pliant Anderson Cooper. “How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the table because someone died of COVID-19?”
The Democratic National Committee likewise stood on the graves of those killed by COVID-19 to score political points, even featuring at Democrats’ 2020 convention the daughter of a man killed by the virus. Leftist pundits and propagandists posing as journalists also pushed the narrative that the deaths of loved ones across America lay at Trump’s feet.
Now that a Democrat resides in the White House, however, the politicization of COVID-19 deaths has ceased, even with more than 80,000 Americans reported as dying with the virus since President Biden’s inauguration. Instead, the left is now accusing the GOP of “weaponizing pandemic-exhausted parents against Biden.”
How are Republicans triggering American moms and dads? By joining parents’ calls for schools to reopen, and by criticizing Democrats who have caved to teacher unions that demand classrooms stay shuttered pending compliance with an ever-expanding list of demands.
Politico, where editors had penned the unwittingly ironic headline accusing Republicans of “weaponizing parents,” then spun Republicans’ position. It claimed GOP lawmakers had offered “no commitment to meaningfully engage on policy proposals” and instead “responded to continued school closures by striking hard at Biden and Democrats, with more Republicans each week accusing the administration of scaling back their ambitious goals on everything from testing to school reopenings.”
On Feb. 18, the Washington Post followed Politico’s lead, framing the problem with school closings being “not Democrats’ policy, but Republican’s criticism of that policy.”
Yet Republicans have been clear on their position since May: Open. The. Schools.
It is not “striking hard” or “weaponizing” anyone or anything to highlight this policy difference. It is utter chutzpah for the left-leaning press, pundits, and politicians who used COVID-19 deaths on a daily basis to attack Trump — but not, at the time, New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo — to frame the debate in this light.
Leftist media seeks to obfuscate the difference on this issue between the two political parties to protect Democrats and teachers’ unions. It won’t work.
Parents across the country see two Americas on school openings. Red states — like Texas, Florida, Wyoming, Montana, and North and South Dakota — have been safely providing in-person education for months. Conversely, schools in the bluest states — such as California, Washington, and Oregon — remain virtual.
Over the course of the last two weeks, the country has also witnessed the Biden administration continually shifting its approach to school reopenings. After promising in 2020 that kids would return to the classroom within the first 100 days of his administration, last week, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the White House’s goal was “to have the majority of schools, so more than 50 percent, open by Day 100 of his presidency.”
Psaki then defined “open” as “some teaching in classrooms, so at least one day a week, hopefully, it’s more.” Psaki later confirmed that goal of one day a week among just over half of U.S. schools comprising “opening,” calling this “bold and ambitious.”
Yet on Tuesday night during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wis., President Biden claimed Psaki’s statement that one day a week would meet the goal of in-person learning was “a mistake in the communication.”
Biden then assured the virtual town hall audience that “a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office.” Yet that is not quite what Biden had promised Americans in December. He had committed to “seeing that a majority of our schools can be opened by the end of my first 100 days.”
While on Tuesday night Biden claimed he had “said open a majority of schools in K through eighth grade,” a transcript of Biden’s earlier 100-day promise tells a different story: He made no such distinction between elementary and middle schools and high schools. He said 100 days for schools, period.
On Wednesday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris attempted to cement that new lower standard for success in an interview with NBC “Today” host Savannah Guthrie. “Our goal is that as many K-8 schools as possible will reopen within the first 100 days. Our goal is that it will be five days a week, and so we have to work to achieve that goal,” Harris said.
Harris fumbled the interview, unable to explain how the Biden-Harris administration could reach its goal given that following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines would necessitate keeping 90 percent of schools shuttered. The vice president was also unable to state whether the administration believes teachers needed to be vaccinated before students return to classrooms.
While Biden, Harris, and Psaki seem unable to provide consistent answers to basic questions about school reopenings, Republican governors have been more forthright. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the CDC’s new guidelines a “disgrace.”
“Florida schools are open for in-person instruction. Every single parent in this state has a right to send their kid to in-person instruction. We have done it the right way, we are not going to turn back,” DeSantis told reporters, adding: “What the CDC put out, 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon — I wonder why they would do it then — was quite frankly a disgrace.”
It’s not just Republican politicians calling the endless closure of schools a disgrace. Parents, including self-described “progressive parents,” are equally outraged, as one Oakland-area parent posted on Medium:
Trump said open schools, so we must keep them closed at all costs. I have never felt so alienated from the people I usually align myself with politically. I will never understand how the left in this country has decided that advocating for putting kids first is somehow right-wing. I’m hearing from progressive parents all the time who are so infuriated about the Democratic apathy around school reopening — from politicians like Gavin Newsom, who are willing to allow their stances to be dictated by teachers’ unions — that they’re considering supporting the recall effort, maybe even switching parties. … Because here’s the thing: parents are not willing to sacrifice their kids’ wellbeing for the sake of ideology or being a good leftist.
Democrats are right to fear their voters are being pushed into the arms of Republicans, but they are being pushed there by the Biden administration’s policies.
That is not Republicans weaponizing parents. That’s the consequence of Biden telling voters that “President Trump doesn’t have a real plan for opening schools safely. He’s offering nothing but failures and delusions,” when, in reality, Biden’s soundbite described himself and his party.