One of the more anxious moments of the post-election period was watching 78-year-old Joe Biden cough his way through a victory speech last night following the electoral college vote. In a year of such horribly bad luck for so many, it’s a stroke of good luck that he’s managed to dodge COVID so far. The last thing this declining country needs as rejectionist partisanship and collapsing faith in institutions swallows American politics is some sort of life-threatening health crisis for the president-elect during the lame-duck period. If Biden passed away, God forbid, Trump would seize on it as a reason to claim he should get another term as president because he was the “runner-up” in the election. Many Republicans and probably more than a few Democrats would succumb to conspiracy theories that Biden was always just a Trojan horse to get Harris elected and could be dispensed with the moment her path to the presidency was secure.
We’ve had as much chaos and distrust this year as America can stand, and Biden’s already tempting fate as a senior citizen who’s meeting with people frequently at a moment when the virus has never been more prevalent. He should be vaccinated immediately. Not tomorrow, not tonight. Literally send the Delaware department of health to his home with Pfizer’s product within the hour and get it done. It’s sheer insanity to wait an extra second now that a vaccine’s available.
Harris should get it too, of course. And Trump and Pence, preferably on camera. Although I wonder if Trump’s attitude towards the vaccine is about to take a chilly turn now that he won’t be in office much longer to take credit for it. The quick development and approval of a coronavirus vaccine is his most meaningful accomplishment as president but he’s always been a vaccine skeptic at heart. And it will irritate him like nothing else to read headlines like “COVID CASES DROP SHARPLY AS VACCINATION PROGRAM RAMPS UP” this March, when it’s Biden who’ll get to celebrate the news from the White House. Trump has a ready-made excuse to avoid the vaccine too: As a COVID survivor, he has natural immunity (for awhile). And he’s sufficiently in tune with his base to grasp that hardcore anti-mask nihilists are destined to become anti-vax nihilists in the coming months, especially once vaccine distribution is led by Democrats. He won’t want to get on the wrong side of them as he looks to maintain his hold over the GOP.