by Julie Kelly
The cruelty, Donald Trump’s foes often claimed, is the point.
Whether in response to a mean tweet or childish name-calling or the infamous “kids in cages” episode, the president’s critics collectively wailed in performative grief about Trump’s self-gratifying “cruelty” toward others.
But Trump’s outbursts pale in comparison to the level of cruelty inflicted on the country’s most vulnerable by those in power. As I wrote in April, coronavirus hysteria has unleashed the inner tyrant in anyone with a modicum of authority, from fame-seeking aged bureaucrats down to the local homeowners’ association president. The only upside, if one can be found in an otherwise catastrophic period of unnecessary human misery, is that the ruling class’ depravity now is fully exposed; the face mask, so to speak, has slipped, and slipped for good.
More horrifying, however, is that no one in power shows the slightest hint of regret. They are, by all indications, actually enjoying it. They are sadists.
In her briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki glibly moved the goalposts on school reopenings. Joe Biden weaponized school shutdowns during the campaign as more evidence that Trump mishandled the pandemic. “If President Trump and his administration had done their jobs early on with this crisis, American schools would be open and be opened safely,” Biden said during a speech explaining his school reopening plan in October. “Instead . . . American families are paying the price for his failures.”
Biden referred to prolonged school shutdowns as a “national emergency” and accurately lamented that millions of children, particularly those with special needs and from poor communities, were falling behind. He pledged to reopen most schools within the first 100 days of his presidency; the plan, of course, was contingent on at least a few hundred billion dollars in no-strings-attached goodies for public school systems.
Now that he occupies the Oval Office, the “national emergency” apparently has been downgraded to a political nuisance for Biden.
“His goal he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50 percent, open by day one hundred of his presidency and that means some teaching in classrooms,” Psaki said Tuesday. “So at least one day a week, hopefully it’s more. Teaching one day a week in the majority of schools by day 100.”
Psaki, who does not have children old enough to be affected by school shutdowns even though she occasionally refers to her role as a “mom” to signal solidarity with parents across the country struggling with this unprecedented crisis, showed no flicker of remorse.
She clearly didn’t care that her words, confirming Biden’s reversal on one of his central campaign promises, would devastate millions of families hoping to return to some semblance of normalcy – that athletes hoping to get back on the field or high school seniors hoping to celebrate their last few months would be crushed.
Quite the opposite: The next day, Psaki commended her boss’ revised plan as “bold and ambitious.” She scoffed when a reporter noted that by the time the minimal measures would take effect, schools would be preparing to close for the summer. “It just happens that January 20 is the day every president is inaugurated so we can’t change that,” she lectured.
Shoddy Leadership, Lost Opportunities
Biden and the Democrats, obviously, are not following the science, they’re following the money – the taxpayer-funded gravy train filled with roughly $170 billion earmarked for public schools and colleges in Biden’s coronavirus “rescue” package; that bonanza is in addition to the $114 billion already dedicated to schools in the last two COVID “relief” giveaways. The White House can’t explain where the money will go except to say it will be spent on ventilation systems and personal protection equipment for teachers because it would be unseemly to admit a few hundred billion in tax dollars is just a kickback to one of the Democratic Party’s most dedicated constituent groups.
Of course, Joe Biden is only partially to blame for continued school shutdowns. Blue-state governors refuse to stop the suffering themselves. One researcher found that of the 11 states where fewer than 10 percent of students have access to full in-person learning, ten are led by Democrats. Conversely, states with at least 70 percent full in-school learning all are led by Republicans.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, whose state has roughly five percent of its schools fully open, can’t even figure out how to get the most at-risk children, including foster care and homeless kids, back to class. Nonetheless, Newsom bragged this week about how he worked “late into the night” to develop a back-to-school plan that appears to be going nowhere. Further, Newsom’s plan does nothing to get middle school or high schoolers back to normal.
California is only inching its way back to resuming high school sports, which have been suspended for almost a year. Lost scholarships, lost opportunities to create lifelong friendships, lost lessons on teamwork and excellence, never to be regained. Yet no one seems to care. “Suicides among teen athletes have rocked several youth programs since the pandemic began in March, leaving parents and coaches scrambling – often from a distance – to help grieving kids in hopes of preventing more tragedies,” the Washington Post reported in December.
Who in the ruling class mourns these children? No one.
Prolonging the Misery
We’ll never know how many elderly nursing home residents died due to inhumane, heartless COVID-19 policies. Not only were sick patients mixed in with healthy residents, but seniors are also dying from “failure to thrive” as they remain trapped in long-term care facilities and isolated from friends and family. Loved ones die alone in hospitals because the most advanced civilization in the history of mankind can’t figure out how to allow a wife to say goodbye to her husband at a state-of-the-art hospital. Family-owned restaurants are shuttered forever, bankrupting families, displacing millions of workers, and altering the makeup of neighborhoods across the country.
No one in power cares.
Now we have reports the Biden Administration wants to restrict travel to Florida, the happiest state in the country right now, and a place where lockdown refugees from blue states can escape the misery imposed by their own political leadership. Just like the full catalog of putative COVID “mitigation” measures, a ban on travel to Florida wouldn’t be rooted in science but based on a depraved political grudge against a governor who refuses to submit to the mob.
And as if one face mask weren’t useless and annoying enough, Biden’s public health “experts” now want Americans to wear two face coverings. The dehumanizing may never end.
Even if schools finally reopen, a labyrinth of harsh rules will prolong students’ misery. (The CDC is expected to issue updated opening guidance on Friday.) Mandatory face masks all day long, separated desks and lunch tables, and routine testing will sustain a cloud of fear and suspicion. Every child will suffer some form of post-traumatic stress that could last months, years, or a lifetime.
No one cares.
The cruelty, as it’s now clear, is the point.
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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago.