Watching American liberalism in action always reminds me of Churchill’s observation about Stanley Baldwin: “Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”
For confirmation look no further than today’s unintentionally hilarious headline for a David Leonhardt column in the New York Times: “The Left’s Vaccine Problem.” No, it isn’t a story about how our pharmaceutical industry has failed us in not coming up with an effective vaccine against liberalism. Rather, as the subtitle makes clear, it is about the obvious incompetence of governments just about everywhere to roll out the COVID vaccine, as the self-answering subhed makes clear: “Why aren’t progressive leaders doing a better job at mass vaccination?”
Once you’ve gotten off the floor from incapacitating laughter, it is worth taking in some of the article:
More progressive and technocratic countries — with both center-left and center-right leaders, like Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea — were doing a better job containing the pandemic. The pattern seemed to make sense: Politicians who believed in the ability of bureaucracies to accomplish complex jobs were succeeding at precisely that.
But over the last few weeks, as vaccination has become a top priority, the pattern has changed. Progressive leaders in much of the world are now struggling to distribute coronavirus vaccines quickly and efficiently:
Europe’s vaccination rollout “has descended into chaos,” as Sylvie Kauffmann of Le Monde, the French newspaper, has written. One of the worst performers is the Netherlands, which has given a shot to less than 2 percent of residents.
Canada (at less than 3 percent) is far behind the U.S. (about 8.4 percent).
Within the U.S., many Democratic states — like California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and tiny Rhode Island — are below the national average.
Alaska and West Virginia have the two highest vaccination rates among U.S. states, with Oklahoma and the Dakotas also above average. Globally, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have the highest rates. Britain — run by Boris Johnson, a populist Conservative — has vaccinated more than 15 percent of residents.
Here’s the key part of the story, which will come as no surprise to Power Line readers, but will remain forever a mystery to liberals:
Why? A common problem seems to be a focus on process rather than on getting shots into arms. Some progressive leaders are effectively sacrificing efficiency for what they consider to be equity. . .
Some blue states have also created intricate rules about who qualifies for a vaccine and then made a big effort to keep anybody else from getting a shot. These complicated rules have slowed vaccination in both California and New York.
“Across New York State,” my colleague Dana Rubinstein has written, medical providers have had “to throw out precious vaccine doses because of difficulties finding patients who matched precisely with the state’s strict vaccination guidelines — and the steep penalties they would face had they made a mistake.”
Who could have foreseen this?
Meanwhile, up in Washington state, the Green River Killer, the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, is getting vaccinated before most other Washington residents, because “equity” or something.
P.S.—By the way, the claim that certain more technocratic countries did better in battling the virus, like Japan—well, there’s this to ponder: