White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday defended President Joe Biden calling the logic behind Texas and Mississippi lifting their mask mandates as “neanderthal thinking,” which upset many Republican officials from those states.
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Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday while wearing a mask, Biden called the lifting of mask mandates a “big mistake” and described the moves as “neanderthal thinking”.
“The last thing we need is neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything is fine,” the president said.
At Thursday’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked Psaki, “How does comparing someone with a neanderthal help convince them to change course and get on board with your public health message?”
“The behavior of a neanderthal, just to be very clear,” she replied. “The behavior of.”
Psaki continued, saying that Biden’s Wednesday comment “was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation, which many American people have,” adding 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. 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, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and “every state across the country,” the press secretary added.
Furthermore, she said the president “believes that—with more than half a million Americans’ lives lost, with families that continue to suffer—that it’s imperative that people listen, across the country, whether they live in a red state or blue state, to the guidance of public health experts.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) went after Biden for his “neanderthal thinking” comment, tweeting Wednesday, “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.”
Reeves later spoke to Fox News host Neil Cavuto that evening, adding, “When President Biden said that we were all Neanderthals, it struck me as someone who needs to get outside of Washington, D.C., and actually travel to Middle America.”
He also tweeted Thursday that the political left “want to jail or fine you for not wearing a mask. When they can’t, they react this way. This isn’t sane,” adding, “BTW you can still wear masks in TX, most businesses require it. It’s just a choice now, as it should be.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top health adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, criticized the moves to lift the mask mandates.
“It’s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,” Fauci told CNN on Wednesday. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you’re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal
In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
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