Tucker Carlson is not on board with President Joe Biden’s latest take on the coronavirus pandemic.
The Fox News host responded with fury this week to Biden’s assertion that Americans might be able to gather in small groups by July 4, if they get vaccinated and the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow.
Biden spoke to the American people on Thursday night in a prime-time address wherein he took credit for the vaccine rollout that began under former President Donald Trump and touted the recently passed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that will give $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans.
“If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day,” Biden said, according to a White House transcript. “That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.”
“How dare you?”
Speaking on his self-titled Fox show immediately after Biden’s speech, Carlson bristled at the suggestion that Biden could tell Americans what to do and not to do like a king, rather than a president tasked with protecting people’s freedom to make their own choices about how to respond to challenges like the pandemic.
“Who are you talking to? This is a free people. This is a free country,” Carlson said disgustedly, according to the U.K.’s Independent. “How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?”
Carlson also blasted Biden for suggesting that things could not go back to normal until everyone is vaccinated. “No mention at all of the people who might not want to take that shot,” he remarked, adding:
But the president said if you take that shot and wear your mask…it is possible, not assured, but possible that you might be able to gather in small groups with the ones you love for the Fourth of July. We might have to rescind that right, but it’s possible [that] if you’re obedient, you’ll get it.
A recent poll from PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist showed that 49% of Republican men said they would not get vaccinated, The Hill reported. Members of minority communities are also getting vaccinated at lower levels than the rest of the public, according to data cited by The Hill, partially because of difficulties accessing it.
Around two-thirds of all adults surveyed in the PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll said they want to or had already been vaccinated for COVID-19, a figure that experts say may not be enough to reach herd immunity in the U.S.
The bottom line
But part of Carlson’s point is that herd immunity may not be necessary to return to normal at this point. Before the vaccine, Americans were at the mercy of the pandemic and had no effective way to protect themselves, which prompted our paternalistic government to step in and tell everyone what they had to do about it.
Now, people have an option for protecting themselves and lowering their risk of death from COVID-19 to almost zero. If they choose not to avail themselves of that option, the government has no further responsibility to structure all of society on their behalf.
It’s entirely possible that the government’s growing need for control will lead it to overlook this very basic logic, however.