Last week, the federal government at the command of Joe Biden initiated the worst abuse of power from the American executive in modern history. In an angry, incoherent speech, the president pledged to use OSHA to force a vaccine mandate on private, American businesses.
The enforcement mechanism? $14,000 fines per instance, per week, if an employee either isn’t vaccinated or doesn’t test negative. That’s enough to effectively bankrupt most mid-sized businesses, if they are out of compliance with even a few workers.
Given that extensive overreach, many on the right immediately spoke out. After all, this is a crossroads moment regarding whether bureaucracies will simply be allowed unlimited power or if there are some limiting principles still in place. Perhaps this would even be a situation where the principles first, norms worshiping Never Trump contingent might speak out with righteous indignation against Joe Biden’s dictatorial overreach?
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, we are getting meek equivocations like this.
The article is written as a response to Charles Cook’s prior objection to a tweet by Goldberg in which the latter asserted that Biden’s vaccine mandate wouldn’t be necessary if everyone would just get vaccinated. That came at the tail end of a mild, half-defense of the legality of Biden’s order.
Here’s a taste of Goldberg’s rebuttal, which is preceded by a claim that he objects to Biden’s mandate — before he launches into a near full-throated defense of it, shifting blame to those having to bear the federal overreach of power.
It seems both a paltry and trivial sacrifice to get vaccinated and to encourage others to do so, and a virtuous and patriotic thing to do as well. Instead, irresponsible actors are telling people the very opposite of that — that it is cowardly and unpatriotic to endure this potentially life-saving minor inconvenience. People are wearing their personal irresponsibility like a badge of honor.
This project is unwise, immoral, unpatriotic, and unvirtuous. It has also led to a political climate in which a fairly unprincipled politician — not a tyrant, but a mere politician — has the political incentive to behave lawlessly both on the vaccine mandate and on the eviction ban. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but neither does Biden’s wrong erase the wrongs that have made his actions politically attractive to him. That is my point: If people did the right thing, it would not grease the skids to more wrong things.
This is the “the rapist probably shouldn’t have raped you, but your skirt was really short” defense of Biden’s mandate. It ignores that the constitutional question remains the most important aspect of this, and that it stands completely separate from any argument over the vaccine itself. Someone who truly believes in the limits of federal power would not take this opportunity to equivocate. Rather, they would speak singularly and forcefully against such tyrannical overreach.
Yet, Goldberg actually argues that what Biden is doing is not tyrannical because he’s attempting to use a legal justification to do it. One, there are a lot of tyrants out there — and throughout history — who would love to know that standard exists and that they are, in fact, not tyrants because they are couching their actions behind legal justification. Two, it should be noted that no such deference was given under Donald Trump.
When Trump ordered an emergency at the border, Jonah conceded he might have the legal justification to do so, yet he still described it as the “use of monarchial power,” which sounds a lot like a charge of tyranny given monarchs are, by definition, tyrants.
Trump has decided that not getting a political win from Congress justifies the use of monarchical powers to deploy the military on U.S. soil. It is, flatly, an abuse of power.
The fact that so many Republican members of Congress are fine with it is further evidence that both Congress and the Republican Party have become a nest of capons — and even weaker than that strutting rooster in the Rose Garden.
Comparing that article to Goldberg’s piece on Biden’s mandate really gives the game away. When it comes to Trump, he’s a “grotesque” monarch blatantly abusing power. When it comes to Biden, yeah, he might be overstepping, but you made him do it. See the difference in tone?
Here’s the thing. You don’t get to claim something is wrong, then offer a defense of it without being rightly accused of defending that thing. And while Goldberg will no doubt attempt to use straddle the fence further here, his deference to Joe Biden is the point. When it’s a Republican he wants to critique, he’s ruthless with colorful language and pointed arguments. When it’s Biden, it’s “meh, you shouldn’t have made him do it.”
Perhaps that’s what his beltway readership now demands? Or maybe he’s just really changed that much since writing Liberal Fascism. Either way, it’s intellectually dishonest and should be called out as such.