There is an old expression: “Success has a thousand fathers but failure is always an orphan.”
It’s a spin on Tacitus: “This is an unfair thing about war: victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone.”
We can judge the results of the pandemic response, then, by the number of people who claim it as their own. So far the answer seems to be: none.
These days, if you listen to the rhetoric, you would think that absolutely no one forced anyone to do anything, not even take the jab. There were no mask mandates. No one was ever locked down. There were some mistakes, sure, but those came only from doing the best we could with the knowledge we had.
Other than make well-considered recommendations, they didn’t force anyone to do anything.
Even from 2021, the media routinely referred to the “pandemic” and not the pandemic policies as responsible for learning losses, depression, business failures, and poor economic conditions. This has been deliberate. It’s designed to normalize lockdowns as if they are just something one does to deal with infectious disease, even though lockdowns have no precedent on that scale in the West.
More recently, this denialism has taken a strange turn. Now the people who actually did pull the trigger on the loss of liberty are routinely refusing to admit that they forced anything.
We’ve heard Donald Trump make this claim for a good part of this year. Mr. “I left it to the states” has yet to be publicly confronted with his decisions from March 10, 2020 and throughout the rest of his presidency. Interviewers don’t press him on the subject for fear of having access cut off later. And yet the record is very clear.
Then Anthony Fauci joined in, claiming that he never recommended the lockdowns at all.
But the pandemic of lockdown denialism has gotten worse, to the point that the head of Health and Human Services plus the head of Occupational Safety and Health Administration are doing the same, even though the Supreme Court actually ruled against their edicts.
Ah, what a difference time and events make.
It gets worse. One of the most imperial and invasive of the governors was Andrew Cuomo of New York. He issued a massive number of edicts that he enforced with police power, including even dictating that bars couldn’t sell drinks alone but also mandating the selling of food, even to the point of spelling out the quantity of food. This resulted in the infamous Cuomo Fries served around the state.
But to hear him talk now, he didn’t do a thing and no one had to comply with anything.
“Government had no capacity to enforce any of this,” he says now. “You must wear a mask and people wore masks in New York. But if they said I’m not wearing a mask there was nothing I could do about it. You must close your private business. I won’t. Well there was nothing I could really do about it. It was really all voluntary. It was extraordinary when you think about it. Society acted with that uniformity voluntarily because I had no enforcement capacity.”
And that’s why hundreds of thousands of people fled the city and state? It was all voluntary?
As Thomas McArdle explains:
In fact, the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order Mr. Cuomo signed on Friday, March 20, 2020, included a directive that all businesses in the state deemed non-essential by the government must cease employee activities within their offices before the following Monday. That December, an army of police sheriffs shut down a popular bar and restaurant on Staten Island that responded “I won’t” and arrested its general manager for defying coronavirus restrictions by remaining open for indoor business, in just one example of enforcement of lockdowns in the state.
Cuomo’s dissembling rhetoric is simply incredible. And it speaks to why we’ve seen no justice for what they have done. It’s simply because not one pandemic leader has admitted to having done anything at all. The entire pandemic response was so brutal, so outlandish, and so utterly wrong even according to their own goals, whatever they were, that no one wants to take credit for any of it.
All of which reminds me of Dr. Carter Mecher, who Michael Lewis in The Premonition celebrates as the key architect of lockdowns. In the Red Dawn emails of 2020, he pauses from his frenzied push for lockdowns with a winsome comment. He says that if everything goes well with the lockdowns, they will have saved society from a deadly disease. The irony, he says, is that if their strategy works, everyone will be saying: look it wasn’t bad after all, so why did we lock down?
So either way, he predicted, they are doomed.
This was the real premonition. Today, no one likes these people. The public is furious beyond measure. The leaders of the response all over the world are being toppled and fleeing offices with as much dignity as they can muster, which usually means landing in the Ivy League (Jacinda Ardern, Lori Lightfoot, Yoel Roth. and Cuomo).
The one thing they will not do is admit that they were completely wrong and only caused massive wreckage from which we are still suffering, plus completely discredited public health and government for a generation or two.
Early on, I and many others were accused of Covid denialism for citing the data on the age disparities of risk. The alarmists and lockdowners were said to be the realistic ones. Three years later, this has completely flipped. Reality bit back. Now the denialists are those who actively promoted and enforced lockdowns, and now implausibly deny that anything happened at all.
All of this gives new meaning to the word gaslighting. Indeed, it is enough to drive one crazy. We encounter it everywhere, even in the second Republican debate where not even one question was about the lockdowns, much less the surveillance, censorship, vaccine mandates, or the failures of the shot. Here we have the greatest failure of government in my lifetime or any living lifetime and we don’t have official institutions out there even willing to talk about it.
The major media is tacitly conspiring with the political establishment, the corporate sector, and the administrative state to pretend like that fiasco was completely normal and also entirely forgettable, not even worth naming. We did the best we could with the information we had so just stop complaining about it!
This is not going to work. It is too close to living memory for this level of gaslighting to be effective. The more these official institutions engage in this crazy form of denialism, the more they discredit themselves.
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