Florida Dem Gov Candidate Nikki Fried So Happy Mask Mandate Is Gone!

State/Local Politics
Florida Dem Gov Candidate Nikki Fried So Happy Mask Mandate Is Gone!

When US District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for airplanes and public transportation, she undermined the federal government’s ability to manage a nationwide pandemic. Democrats are a diverse coalition with often competing interests, but we should all agree that a hacktivist judge publicly pantsing the Democratic president is not something to celebrate.

And yet ...

Yes, that’s Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for governor, preparing to fly the now COVID-friendly skies. She tweeted a photo of herself on a plane, maskless and flashing a peace sign.

Peace out to the TSA mask mandate, but also peace and respect to others, whether wearing a mask or not.

Peace out? She was apparently flying to 1992.

So, there are several problems here. Although some Delta Airlines flight attendants were offering passengers champagne to celebrate the mask mandate’s demise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the actual experts — never said going barefaced on planes was safe. The CDC had extended the rules through May 3 so it could study the COVID-19 BA.2 subvariant, which has become the dominant strain in the US.

PREVIOUSLY: Hack Trump Judge Cancel-Cultures Federal Public Transit Mask Mandate

If Fried had checked her phone before taking her selfie, she might’ve noticed that the Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it would appeal Judge Mizelle’s ruling if the CDC believes a continued mandate is necessary. (I would’ve advised an immediate appeal just based on the larger principle — after all, the DOJ defended Donald Fucking Trump in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit to prevent a seemingly dangerous precedent.)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that “public health decisions shouldn't be made by the courts. They should be made by public health experts.” It’s not unreasonable to expect all Democrats to support this position and model sensible health policy. Wear the damn mask, at least until the CDC provides different guidance.

After some of her followers expressed their displeasure with her maskless photo, Fried responded:

I'll read all your takes, but the mandates are dropped, vaccines are working, things are getting back to normal, and it's okay for a Democrat to say it — because we made it possible. I love y’all.

Democrats didn’t end the mask mandates. A rightwing judge with a learner’s permit overruled the executive branch. Republicans — including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whom Fried is running against — have gloated that this proves the Biden administration’s policy was lawless government overreach. Senator Chuck Grassley claimed the ruling shows how important it was for him to help stack the courts with Trump’s unqualified Federalist Society picks. This ruling has likely elevated Mizelle to the GOP shortlist for the Supreme Court. Democrats should spend every waking moment calling Mizelle out as a radical, not celebrating the results of her hacktivism.

It seems as if Democrats like Fried want to fold on masks because their consultants tell them mandates are unpopular (the majority of real people actually support the mandates.) Everyone wants to go back to normal, so why not just jump on that bandwagon and take the credit that Democrats are due? If that was the plan, though, Democrats should’ve led with it months ago. Now, they seem reactive, even though they’re still in charge.

Conservative pundits like Josh Barro, for instance, didn’t applaud the Biden administration after Mizelle ended the mandate. He instead smeared Biden’s leadership, and he’s one of the white “moderates” whose approval Democrats desperately crave.

BARRO: Biden himself does not appear to buy into the idea that masks on planes are urgently needed. Asked Tuesday whether people should still wear masks on planes, as the CDC still strongly recommends, he just said “that’s up to them.” If he doesn’t think even masks on planes are worth a personal recommendation from him, then why didn’t he tell the CDC to end its use of the force of law to make people wear masks before a court made them?

Maybe he and his top officials actually believe their own rhetoric about being at the mercy of the CDC ... In fact, the CDC works for the president, and its experts are here to advise him, not to rule. Biden’s apparent failure to understand that is an incredible display of fecklessness, and it’s causing him serious political problems.

Mizelle’s ruling compromised public health and is an actual example of a judge legislating from the bench. That’s the point Democrats should never stop hammering.

Peace out.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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