Distractions: Biden's new HHS pick historic, all right -- in COVID-19 nursing-home policy double standards

Get ready for lots of media fawning over the appointment of Rachel Levine to become assistant secretary at HHS. This morning, news outlets have already begun hailing Joe Biden for his historic choice of appointing the first transgender nominee to a Senate-confirmed position. But Levine has other history that should be more directly applicable — and to raise more questions about Biden’s judgment (via Twitchy):

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide. She won past confirmation by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate and has emerged as the public face of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

Levine is a historic choice with a predictable history of elite double standards. While Levine ran the Pennsylvania health department, she followed the example of Andrew Cuomo in ordering nursing homes to readmit residents who tested positive for COVID-19. Levine then made sure to get her own mother out of the nursing home to avoid the consequences of that decision:

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s mother moved out of a personal care home with the health secretary’s help, after Levine ordered all nursing homes and long-term facilities in the state to accept coronavirus patients from hospitals.

Levine admitted Tuesday to moving the 95-year-old Pennsylvania resident out of her personal care home, which is similar to an assisted living facility although technically distinct.

“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Levine said. The health secretary’s admission came after local station ABC27 found out about the move.

“My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions,” said Levine, who in 2015 became the first transgender cabinet member in Pennsylvania’s state government.

ABC27 wondered what kind of example Levine was setting, and they weren’t alone:

While Levine beefs up rules and oversight at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, ABC27 learned the health secretary’s mother recently vacated a personal care home in the Midstate.

“My mother requested, and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the Covid-19 outbreak,” Levine said. “My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.”

Many in Harrisburg wondered what kind of message it sends — when a close relative of the person tasked with overseeing those types of facilities doesn’t choose to stay in one. Levine countered that she is working to protect the health of all Pennsylvanians.

It’s not as if this was some deeply buried secret. This got enough attention that the same legislators who had earlier voted to confirm Levine started demanding her resignation. Tucker Carlson covered this in May:

This raises two questions. First, just who’s doing the vetting for the incoming Biden administration? It seems impossible to believe they would deliberately choose to start off with an Andrew Cuomo-esque problem at HHS by appointing someone whose decisions not only arguably cost excessive deaths, but also knew enough to spare her own mother from the consequences of her decisions. Is Biden’s team looking for people who can withstand proper scrutiny and have sufficient experience, or are they just looking to make checks on identity-politics scorecards?

Second: Will the media and Senate Democrats do their jobs and provide that proper scrutiny of Rachel Levine? Or do they also only care about identity-politics scorecards?