Meghan McCain: It's selfish, reckless, and stupid for Sarah Palin to be dining out while she has COVID

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

I thought everyone would appreciate an update on where the McCain/Palin alliance of 2008 stands in 2022.

Palin eating dinner at a restaurant two days after testing positive is a “What were they thinking?” moment for everyone involved. What was she thinking, potentially exposing her friends to the virus over dinner? What were her friends thinking, letting her expose them? What was the restaurant thinking, letting her back in after they were caught not enforcing New York City’s vaccine passport the first time she visited? And what is Eric Adams thinking, letting the restaurant off the hook when there’s a documented case of non-enforcement?

The only person whose thoughts are clear is McCain. She thinks it sucks.

That was the scene last night at Elio’s, the same restaurant where Palin dined on Saturday. Two days later she tested positive for COVID, throwing a wrench into her defamation suit against the New York Times. Two days after that she was … back at Elio’s. Although, as you can see in the clip, in this case she was seated in the “outdoor” area.

Which isn’t really outdoors, of course. It’s an enclosed heated space set up on the sidewalk abutting the restaurant, something many NYC eateries have done to provide an “outdoor” dining option for guests during the pandemic. Why the virus would transmit meaningfully less in an enclosed space outside the restaurant than the enclosed space inside the restaurant is unclear to me, but a lot of things about COVID precautions are unclear in 2022.

According to the Daily Mail, Palin actually dined out on Tuesday night — the day after testing positive — as well. The paper’s new columnist, McCain, is disgusted:

‘Is she crazy? Day two? I haven’t seen her or talked to her for many years, aside from some short emails when my father passed, so I can’t imagine what she is thinking but this is highly irresponsible.

‘This was selfish, reckless and stupid. Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean it is not unethical.

‘This is why she shouldn’t be in politics anymore. You have to lead by example. I’m embarrassed to have once known her.’…

‘Even if you’re not sick you are infectious and you could infect someone with comorbidities.’

McCain had a rough bout with COVID herself recently so she knows from personal experience that Omicron, the “mild” variant, isn’t so mild in practice. “I am still now, a few weeks out from testing positive, waking up feeling the aftereffects of a cold in my throat, getting fatigued easily, and unable to taste food or smell anything normally,” she told People magazine. Why would Palin knowingly put people at risk of suffering through that?

When did the logic of anti-vaxxers like her shift from “You can’t force me to protect myself” to “You can’t expect me to protect others even when I know I’m infected“?

Or is she not infected anymore? It’d be bizarre if she tested positive three times on Monday and then tested negative on Tuesday, as it can take 10 days or more for a case of COVID to clear from someone’s system. Maybe she pulled the old Trump trick where she tested herself again twice, got one positive and one (false) negative, and decided to just assume the negative result was the correct one because that’s what she wanted to believe.

Palin’s gonna Palin. The more salient question is what Elio’s, the restaurant, was thinking by letting her back in 48 hours after her positive test made headline news. It could be they were thinking that if the City doesn’t take its own vaccine passport law seriously, the restaurant shouldn’t take it seriously either.

[A] spokesman for the city said Tuesday that the many agencies that enforce the vaccination rules issue violations only for incidents that have been observed by a city inspector. Ms. Palin’s visit to Elio’s was disclosed in a tweet by a fellow diner.

Luca Guaitolini, the operations manager of Elio’s, an Italian restaurant that has long drawn celebrities, said Monday that the restaurant had made a mistake in letting Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, sit indoors. He said employees normally checked vaccination cards for all first-time customers, but not for regulars who dine there weekly; Ms. Palin, he said, had dined with a longtime guest.

If the only way the City can enforce the vaccine passport is to have a city inspector on the premises while a violation is happening, they might as well repeal the policy. Especially now that the Palin incident has made clear to all that even an admitted violation involving a celebrity won’t get the City to act retroactively. So much for Eric Adams being a hard-ass about “law and order.”

What we’re seeing here, I assume, is both the local government and local businesses transitioning to the “endemic COVID” era as Omicron continues to decline in NYC. The vaccine passport rule will remain on the books as a nod to taking the virus seriously, but neither the mayor nor business owners are going to enforce it. Not even when there’s a clear-cut case of a famous person whom the whole City knows is infected being allowed in. Oh well.