For all of President Biden’s carefully constructed blue-collar persona — a lunch-pail guy who loves his family, his Corvette and the fact he can say he puts in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s paycheck — he’s an elitist at heart.
I don’t mean this in the colloquial sense we like to treat the word “elitist” with these days when discussing politicians. I’m not calling him an elitist because he’s a Davos-attending Council on Foreign Relations type who doesn’t get why you don’t just admit bureaucrats like him know what’s best for your life. (I mean, he’s that, too, but that’s for another day.) Rather, I’m going back to a simpler definition of elitist: As a person, Joe Biden really thinks he’s better than you.
This isn’t an uncommon trait among politicians, mind you, and I can almost hear the keyboards clacking as liberal readers try to find Donald Trump quotes for me. Find away, but have fun trying to find anything more condescending (or casually racist) as Biden’s “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” quote from August 2019.
Or the time when, confronted with an angry voter in Iowa, told him “look, fat, look, here’s the deal.” (His campaign would later try to “clarify” that he said “facts” — except that didn’t work in context, considering he’d questioned the man’s physical fitness moments beforehand.)
We could go on, but the point is this: A lot of Biden’s gaffes involve Biden reminding his political adversaries they’re just as good as him. He managed this feat again on Thursday when he said that two red states, both Southern, who had abandoned mask mandates were engaged in “Neanderthal thinking.”
Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves wasn’t impressed with the characterization, pointing out in a tweet that “Mississippians don’t need handlers” like him.
That wasn’t Biden’s view of things, though. According to Fox News, the president was sharply critical of Reeves and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for ending the mask mandates when speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
“We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough [vaccines] for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot,” Biden said.
“The last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking.”
That led to this tweet from Gov. Reeves, a Republican:
President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is “neanderthal thinking.”
Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 3, 2021
“President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘neanderthal thinking.’ Mississippians don’t need handlers,” he tweeted.
“As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hit back at the Biden administration’s decision to allow authorities to release illegal immigrants who tested positive for COVID into the community in Texas.
“The Biden administration was spreading COVID in south Texas yesterday because of their lack of constraint of testing and quarantining people who come across the border illegally,” Abbott told Fox News.
“The Biden administration was exposing Texans to COVID. That is a Neanderthal type approach to dealing with the COVID situation.”
As usual, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was trotted out Thursday to reframe what Biden said during her media briefing.
Asked “how does comparing someone to a ‘Neanderthal’ help convince them to change course and get on board with your public health message,” Psaki said Biden meant, “[t]he behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear. The behavior of.”
“Look, I think the President — what we — what everybody saw yesterday was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation, which I think many American people have, that for almost a year now, people across the country have sacrificed and, many times, they haven’t had the information they need from the federal government,” Psaki said, according to a transcript.
“They haven’t had access to a greater understanding of what the public health guidelines should look like. And those include many, many people in Mississippi, in Texas, in Ohio, Florida and every state across the country.”
Ah! So not only was this “Neanderthal thinking,” but they haven’t had the information that they needed from the government! Thank heavens Joe Biden will set things right.
Psaki also said Biden “simply has — was asked — asked the American people to abide by wearing masks for 100 days. We’re at about day 40. Are we at day 40? Around there. Sixty more days. That’s what he’s asking, and he’s certainly hopeful that businesses and people across the country will continue to do that.”
Right. Fifteen days to flatten the curve.
While he’s not from either Mississippi or Texas, Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley may have provided the best summation of the White House’s position here.
“What a uniter Joe Biden is. You know this is Mr. Unity,” Hawley told Fox News. “And yet if you disagree with him you’re a Neanderthal.”
In Missouri we’re kind of used to this because we are called by the D.C. crowd ‘flyover country,’ so we’ve gotten this treatment for years, but the truth is there’s nothing wrong with actually following the science and allowing people to make their own decisions.”
That’s all Texas and Mississippi are doing, especially with lower case counts and increased vaccine rollout. You’re free to make your own decision — a decision which, at this point, most people would be making anyway. Apparently, this is “Neanderthal thinking” — and it just so happens these states are in the South! Quelle surprise!
The only way this could have gone over worse is if he reprised his “poor kids” gaffe and said something like, “dumb Southerners are just important to our COVID policy as masked Democrats.”
It certainly sounds like that’s what he meant, but let’s give him some points for restraint. Either way, with language like that, he’s not convincing anyone in Mississippi or Texas that they need him as a handler.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.