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A most Republican pandemic

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Mississippi governor and minor Paul Thomas Anderson character Tate Reeves appeared on national TV, and with Jake Tapper not in a Both Sides mood it went very, very badly:

When naming the poster child for irresponsible leadership on covid-19, there are plenty of governors to choose from. You could make a strong case for South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). But the mistakes of another Republican governor, Tate Reeves of Mississippi, haven’t gotten nearly enough attention. Until, that is, a disastrous appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Host Jake Tapper opened the interview by asking Reeves to respond to President Biden’s callout of the state in a speech Thursday: “In Mississippi, children are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more,” said the president. “I propose a requirement for covid vaccines, and the governor of that state calls it, quote, ‘a tyrannical-type move.’”

Reeves tried to dodge by distinguishing between the vaccines at issue. “It is unique to kids and their ability to go to our public schools. It’s not vaccines mandated in the workplace,” he told Tapper. “This is an attack by the president on hard-working Americans and hard-working Mississippians who he wants to choose between getting a jab in their arm and their ability to feed their families.”

First of all, if a vaccine mandate violates fundamental freedoms, surely it’s more despicable to impose it on children. Regardless, Reeves’s argument is nonsense. Those mandates are “unique to kids” because children can receive those vaccines. If the Food and Drug Administration cleared the coronavirus vaccines for all children tomorrow, does anyone believe Mississippi Republicans would suddenly support a mandate? Not a chance.

But while some Republicans are able to come up with slicker lies than others, they all end up in the same place — maximizing the deaths of their own supporters:

That’s not a question Reeves wants to answer. “What we ought to be talking about,” he told Tapper, “is what can we do to minimize the deaths going forward.” To answer that question, let’s look at the states — those “laboratories of democracy.” According to seven-day rolling averages, as of Sunday, the five states with the highest per capita covid death rates are all governed by Republicans, as are 12 of the top 13. Reeves may protest that “this virus is not just attacking Republicans in red states,” but under Republican leaders in red states, there are too many needless deaths. Politicians like Reeves have prioritized their political views over their constituents’ lives — and those constituents have paid the price.

The fact that the major party that sees Mississippi as an ideal model for governance is likely to be in charge of the House of Representatives again in 2023 strikes me as rather suboptimal.

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