From the right: We Can Handle the Virus
“The COVID-19 lockdown has served its purpose” and must end, declares The Washington Post’s Marc Thiessen. “The objective” was never to stop every infection, “which is impossible; it was to buy time to learn about the virus and prevent our health-care system from being overwhelmed.” We’ve done that — at a cost. Of the 38 million lockdown layoffs, 42 percent “may be permanent.” One expert predicts the toll on non-COVID patients will be higher than COVID deaths because they’ve “been forced to put off care” for “cancer and cardiac disease,” and one study sees “an additional 40,000 deaths due to suicides and drug overdoses among the jobless.” It’s “senseless” to wait for a vaccine; we must “stop asking millions of Americans to sacrifice their livelihoods” when we “have the capacity to handle” any spike in cases when lockdowns end.
From the left: I Was Wrong — We Must Reopen
USA Today’s Michael J. Stern’s “status as a die-hard Democrat” put him in the “stay at home until it’s safe” side of the coronavirus debate. No longer: “New circumstances have convinced me that cities should reopen sooner rather than later.” Not only does the science show “the chance of an effective vaccine is far from guaranteed,” but we now know that “staying home won’t deliver us to the safety zone.” A “life of home confinement” is “not economically feasible” and “not a world in which most of us would want to live.” People will have “hard choices to make” about “working from home, going to restaurants and visiting friends” — but balancing “risk and reward” should now be a choice individuals make themselves.
Campaign watch: Joe’s Auspicious Absence
Democrats worry that Joe Biden’s absence from the campaign trail amid the pandemic makes him look “weak and marginal at a time of national crisis.” They shouldn’t, argues The Week’s Damon Linker: Unlike most politicians, “Biden benefits by staying in the background.” By laying low and “avoiding embarrassing gaffes,” he plays to his key strength, the “warm glow” of “affirmative feeling” voters have for him, and “comes closer to resembling” a popular “generic Democrat.” His campaign will eventually “need to decide precisely how, and how much, to use the candidate on the stump,” but now Biden’s “best way to win the game is barely to play at all.”
Liberal: The Better Way To Shame
Angry mobs are punishing social-distancing violators, most notably Dominic Cummings, top adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The mobs,” sighs The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood, “are doing God’s work, but badly.” It suggests “our shaming skills need sharpening. If you are conducting your shaming in the frozen-food aisle, you’re already too late.” Better to mobilize “silent disgust,” associated with the primal sense of “honor” many older societies understood — as in the “moral revolution” in 18th-century England that saw gentlemen reject dueling as not only “wrong but also dishonorable. Feeling silent disgust” is “a much more visceral reaction than merely to recognize that something is wrong, and to say so loudly.” Once we get to the point where a would-be father-in-law would be ashamed to announce his daughter’s marriage to a distancing violator, “silent disgust” will have done its work, rendering “outrage mobs” superfluous.
Culture critic: Pandemic Self-Righteousness
The “universal” coronavirus crisis “should be a unifying moment,” with everyone “feeling the same fear, anxiety and uncertainty” — and yet, laments National Review’s Jim Geraghty, some are taking the opportunity to “judge others and whip up and direct public scorn.” From Staten Island shoppers who decided to “swarm and berate a woman for not wearing a mask” to Gothamites heeding Mayor de Blasio’s calls to rat out their neighbors, some Americans insist they’re “the good people — practicing the right steps to protect themselves and their loved ones” — while anyone “doing something different is one of the bad people.” It seems “if we cannot feel good, then we can at least feel superior.” Such “smug virtue-shaming” isn’t persuasive, especially when we’ve never had “a greater need for empathy.”
— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board
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