NEWS AND OPINION:
According to John Hopkins University, the first case of COVID-19 was reported on Dec. 1, 2019, in Wuhan, China, which means that the U.S. and much of the world have been living with the virus for two years, and that 2022 will mark the third year of this medical challenge.
The virus itself has also influenced politics, social norms, public security, leisure activities, media coverage and public opinion in major ways. Response to the virus is subject to interpretation — past news accounts chronicled maskless daredevils as well as those who showed up at the grocery store breathing through a snorkel. The arrival of the omicron variant has added to the spectrum of behaviors.
Completed vaccination cards are treated with care and shown with pride. Facial masks can be stylish or spurned altogether. Public officials wrestle with school closures or give conflicting advice about exposure rates. All that aside, one analyst has a handy name for the phenomenon.
John Hinderaker, founder of the influential blog Powerline, originated this term.
“I know I am an outlier, but I have never had any fear of COVID. Some things scare me — roller coasters, for example — but respiratory viruses are not on the list. But many others don’t see it that way, and with the arrival of omicron, hysteria is making a comeback. Why?” Mr. Hinderaker asks in a short essay.
He cited those who arm themselves with proof of a completed series of shots, proof of a negative COVID-19 antibody test, an N95 mask sealed to their face with surgical tape, plus an extra face shield and vinyl gloves‚ among other things.
“No doubt some of the fear is genuine, but I do think some people enjoy hysteria. Others prefer to have an excuse to stay home, and some — politicians and liberal activists — enjoy bossing other people around,” Mr. Hinderaker concludes.
He is a retired lawyer and now president of the Center of the American Experiment, a think tank headquartered in Minnesota. Find his blog at Powerlineblog.com.
65% OF LATINOS FROWN ON BIDEN
From our Dear Desk comes news that an NPR/“PBS NewsHour”/Marist poll reveals that President Biden’s favorability has hit a “historic” low compared to other surveys conducted by the three groups. And now we will allow the numbers to do the talking.
Among all U.S. adults, 55% now disapprove of the job Mr. Biden is doing. Some disapprove more than others, however. That includes 95% of Republicans, 66% of independents and 11% of Democrats, along with 65% of Latinos, 56% of whites and 52% of non-whites.
Another 71% of rural residents disapprove, along with 57% who live in a small city, 53% who live in a small town, 52% who live in a big city and 47% who are suburbanites.
The poll also found that 67% of people in the Midwest disapprove of Mr. Biden, along with 55% of Westerners, 54% of Southerners and 45% of those who live in the Northeast.
In the age demographic, the president gets his worst rating among the Gen-Xers age 40-55: 74% disapprove. He rates 54% disapproval among millennials age 18-39 and 52% disapproval among baby boomers age 56-74. The Silent Generation — those over 74 — appear most forgiving, with a 47% disapproval rating.
And one last example: Among those who voted for former President Donald Trump, 96% disapprove of Mr. Biden. And among those who voted for Mr. Biden, 12% disapprove.
The survey of 1,400 adults was conducted Dec. 11-13.
NOW THERE’S A THOUGHT
“President Biden delivers a double dose of ineptitude as COVID and ‘Build Back Better’ bedevils his presidency,” writes Michael Goodwin, a New York Post columnist.
“Yes, but he’ll soon be delivering the ineptitude booster shot,” responds Glenn Reynolds, founder of the Instapundit blog.
REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS BRISTLE AT DEMOCRATS
“In the spirit of the season, Democrat governors embrace record-high prices,” quip their Republican counterparts.
“This winter, American consumers face the highest cost of living increase in nearly 40 years, and President Joe Biden and the Democrat governors that support his reckless tax and spend agenda continue to make matters worse,” the Republican Governors Association said in a statement — citing current government figures which reveals a 58.1% leap in the price of gasoline, a jump in energy costs of 33.35%, plus a 6.1% increase in overall food prices.
The organization also cited Democratic Govs. Janet Mills of Maine, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Tony Evers of Wisconsin as examples of leaders whose states have been particularly hit hard by inflation during a cold winter.
“They’ve pressed on with their radical liberal agenda, from taxing gasoline to supporting the destructive spending by President Joe Biden and Washington Democrats. Meanwhile, Republican governors cut taxes, foster the best environments for business, and lead the nation in the best recovery from the pandemic by getting people back to work,” the GOP group said.
The U.S. Labor Department recently released state employment and unemployment rates that support that claim.
The new data revealed that 17 of the top 20 states for jobs recovered since the COVID-19 pandemic began are led by Republican governors, and 18 of the top 20 states have Republican-controlled legislatures. Another 24 Republican-led states have recovered at least two-thirds of their lost jobs while 16 of the top 20 states with the lowest unemployment rates are led by Republican governors and 17 have Republican-controlled legislatures.
“There is no denying that Americans have taken notice of Democratic governors’ silence on Joe Biden’s failed, disastrous policies. The Biden White House is running the economy into the ground and Democrat governors are letting it happen while Republican governors fight back on behalf of every hard-working American,” the GOP group said.
POLL DU JOUR
• 96% of U.S. parents agree that holidays are “generally a happy time” for their family.
• 18% of this group say the holidays cause “high levels of stress” for them.
• 31% cite extra shopping and holiday tasks as a reason for stress.
• 30% cite “keeping the family healthy”; 29% cite the impact of holidays on household finances.
• 23% cite planning for family gatherings, 22% cite making holiday meals.
• 14% cite criticism from family members about holiday plans.
SOURCE: A C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital/IPSOS poll of 2,020 U.S. parents of children age 18 or younger, conducted Oct. 1-31 and released Dec. 20. Multiple answers were accepted from respondents.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.