Say, why did a vaccinated Biden wear a mask ... for a video conference?

As former Team Trump rapid-response chief Andrew Clark quipped, yesterday’s message from the White House was, “Science is back.” Today’s message seems to be “Superstition is better,” which is an odd but perhaps salient message on a conference call with world leaders on climate change.

Note the accessory eschewed by all of the other global leaders on this call:

Indeed, Biden appears to be alone in his maskedness. The leaders of Italy and France aren’t on screen at this moment, and the face of South Korea’s president is obscured by a logo. Otherwise, the rest of the world leaders are barefaced … as one would expect for a video conference, where none of the participants are in physical proximity to each other.

Perhaps, some might object, that Biden wasn’t alone in the room when participating. It’s likely that none of these leaders were by themselves, however; most of them would have aides handy with data for support on such a call, even if they were all in the same room. Don’t forget too that Biden got vaccinated early on the curve, and presumably everyone in the White House has gotten vaccinated as well. (Wouldn’t it be a scandal if they weren’t, while pushing for 100% vaccine compliance?) Not only is Biden not vulnerable, he almost certainly can’t spread the disease either, even if others were within six feet of him, which doesn’t appear to be the case here either.

In other words, this is a complete affectation, and it’s a counterproductive affectation at that. Biden for some reason keeps wanting to send a message that everyone has to remain masked, indoors and out, regardless of whether people are around or not, even if you’ve been vaccinated. That message contributes to mitigation exhaustion, disincentivizes vaccine uptake, and generally makes his leadership look disconnected from reality. And this screen grab amplifies that takeaway, especially considering that many of these countries are in the middle of a massive COVID-19 spike and a couple of them are locking down all over again over it.

If we want to incentivize vaccinations, we have to start modeling normalcy as a result, not an interminable status quo. Otherwise, we get what we’re already seeing — a falloff of enthusiasm for vaccinations as the most motivated get their inoculations:

Putting a mask on for a video call is almost a satirical statement, a reductio ad absurdum of fear-driven behavior as opposed to science-informed choices. Biden’s not doing himself any favors in terms of credibility for his vaccination sales pitch.