Last year, as Covid-19 tightened its grip, public holidays like Memorial Day at the end of May, Independence Day on July 4, and Labor Day in September became infection spreaders as millions of Americans hit the road and gathered with others despite pleas to stay home and stay apart.
There has been a palpable change in cities in recent weeks as people begin to test the immunity granted to them by the miracle of vaccines. Bars and restaurants are filling up — at least those that have enough staff to open. It is an extraordinary story. And it offers hope for many nations where vaccines have yet to become available en masse. After all, if the US — which botched much of its pandemic response — can all but come out of the other side, nations with the means and where mask wearing is not a political statement could do even better.
America still has problems, though. The politicization that has haunted the country is extending to vaccines. People in conservative states are generally more reluctant to get shots than those in more diverse, liberal cities. Come winter, when everyone is back indoors, that could cause Covid-19 hot spots and new agonizing about whether to reimpose some restrictions. And, sadly, death rates are likely to go back up again — but the hope is that infections will remain isolated and the big opening will not be reversed.
Time for a break
It is enormously costly to move presidents around, requiring helicopters and a mini version of Air Force One even for the short hop to Delaware. Critics gripe that they should just stay home and save taxpayer cash. But grousing over presidential vacations is a bit of a political charade; Democrats bellyache about Republican presidents taking time off and vice versa, but even a commander in chief needs some downtime.
Anyway, presidents never get away from the job. The vast infrastructure of the presidency, including the Secret Service, officials and a press pool, goes wherever the boss does. Presidents could destroy the planet from the 10th fairway, the beach or anywhere else, since the armed forces member who carries the “football” containing nuclear launch codes is always just a few steps away.
‘This is not an issue of Russia against me; it’s an issue of Russia against the United States’
“This is not an issue of Russia against me; it’s an issue of Russia against the United States, and the United States needs to answer this hostage diplomacy situation and resolve it as quickly as possible,” he said. Whelan also said he has “a positive feeling” about the meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month.