President Biden’s Thursday speech to the American people about “the battle against COVID-19” had little to do with public health. Its purpose was to distract us from the unmitigated disaster he created in Afghanistan. What better way to accomplish this goal than to issue an imperial edict that would outrage anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the Constitution? Neither Biden nor any federal agency has the power to impose a vaccine mandate on private sector businesses or workers. If Biden fails to grasp this, the people who actually run his administration get it, but they want nothing more from Thursday’s speech than a change of subject.
Moreover, after a brief spasm of genuine journalism, the legacy media has reverted to slavish repetition of White House talking points regarding the Americans left for dead in Afghanistan and the history of “America’s longest war.” Having developed collective amnesia about the original purpose of our invasion of that benighted country — to curtail its use as a base from which to launch terrorist attacks on U.S. soil — the Fourth Estate is back to feeding us trite nonsense about fiendish “neocons” and the folly of nation building. Ironically, Biden’s vaccine mandate may well cause him more problems than his Afghanistan blunders. As constitutional lawyer Jonathan W. Emord points out at Townhall,
Joe Biden has just hurled his Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Department of Justice into a massive, costly, and lengthy legal quagmire brought on by corporations, employees, and states who will undoubtedly file suits across the nation challenging his vaccine mandate. He has jumped headlong into a litigation maelstrom the likes of which the nation has not seen since employers sued in overwhelming numbers to invalidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s failed National Industrial Recovery Act.… Biden’s latest abuse of power will be challenged on constitutional and statutory grounds.
Emord lists three constitutional defects in Biden’s vaccine mandate that are all but certain to generate successful court challenges. It violates the Tenth Amendment, which reserves the police power to impose such mandates to the states. The federal government can’t constitutionally issue such decrees. It violates the Fifth Amendment, which requires the government to apply laws and regulations impartially. By definition, Biden’s mandate calls for unequal treatment of Americans according to their vaccination status. Finally, it violates the Separation of Powers doctrine, which precludes the President from usurping the prerogatives of Congress by issuing arbitrary national edicts.
Regardless of the mandate’s short-term value as a distraction from the Afghanistan debacle, the midterm impact of Biden’s arbitrary decree will be devastating for the Democrats. The flurry of unfavorable court rulings that the vaccine mandate must inevitably produce will be handed down in the midst of the 2022 congressional elections. Even worse, because his administration believes its own talking points concerning which voters are reluctant to get vaccinated, Biden’s mandate speech inadvertently attacked a group of people without whose wholehearted support the Democrats can’t hope to survive. As Pew Research has noted, nearly 4 out of 10 black Americans refuse to be vaccinated:
Black adults express less confidence in the coronavirus vaccine research and development process–a judgment closely aligned with intent to get vaccinated.… Among the 37% of Black Americans who say they will not get a coronavirus vaccine, 84% cite concern about side effects from the new vaccines as a major reason, while 74% say a major reason is that the vaccines were developed and tested too quickly. Another 71% of this group cite their desire to know more about how well they work. Half of Black Americans who do not intend to get a vaccine say a major reason is that they have seen too many mistakes from the medical care system in the past.
Biden singled out the unvaccinated as a target for his increasingly irrational anger: “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.” This condescending attitude toward African-Americans is perfectly in character, of course. Biden has a long and well-documented history of racism. But this attack on nearly 40 percent of the Black population is more likely the result of the amateurism that characterizes everything the Biden administration touches. It is precisely what one would expect from a White House run by inveterate political hacks like Ron Klain. There is a reason such creatures never rise above the level of lackey.
One of the few rational statements Biden made on Thursday evening was the following: “You might be confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19.” He then went on to recite the usual mendacious claims we get whenever he talks about the pandemic, none of which touched on the problem that has caused the confusion. The uncertainty is the result of Biden’s shameless flip-flop after promising not to mandate vaccines. It has been exacerbated by Anthony Fauci’s countless pirouettes and a continuing pattern of mixed messages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on virtually everything including masks, vaccines, the Delta variant, and the origin of the virus.
Biden’s Thursday speech has again highlighted his contempt for the electorate and the Constitution. He is president because he used COVID-19 as an excuse to hide from the voters in 2020. Now he’s exploiting the Delta variant to pit us against one another in the hope that we will forget his Afghanistan blunders. Meanwhile, he has arrogated powers constitutionally reserved to Congress and the states for the explicit purpose of checking the abuses of authoritarians like himself. The result? A new CNN poll shows that 74 percent of Americans are angry about how things are going in the country and the Taliban celebrated 9/11 by hoisting their flag in Kabul. Mission failed Mr. President.