Everyone but the bureaucrats seem happy the masks are gone

Hours after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate for airplanes and other public transport, saying that it exceeded the authority of the CDC and violated administrative law, the videos started coming out. Airplane passengers, informed they could take the masks off themselves and their two-year-olds, started spontaneously applauding. Flight attendants cried tears of joy; one was filmed collecting passenger masks as garbage, while breaking out into song.

The applause and the tears were part of a mutual liberation from an inanity. After two years, hardly anyone believes that putting on cloth masks, then taking them off to eat and drink in a confined space, is an effective or rational method for controlling the spread of a disease.

Everyone but the bureaucrats seems happy it’s likely over.

The vast majority of travelers in the United States either have been vaccinated or at least have had a previous Covid infection. Air is recirculated constantly on planes, which is why flights have not become, like church-choir lofts, notorious as zones of Covid spread.

Airlines have been begging the administration to scrap the mask mandate. Flight attendants, like so many others, hate spending their workdays in a mask, and loathe even more the duty to enforce this insanity on paying customers whose patience is also running out.

Not everyone was so pleased with Judge Mizelle’s ruling. Progressives attacked Mizelle for her youth and her political affiliations. She’s 35 and was a member of the Federalist Society, and once clerked for Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. They moaned for travelers who were deprived of the last line of defense in the pandemic. One can detect in these plaints regret that public sentiment has turned against the pandemic measures most dear to progressives.

Political reality seems to be dawning elsewhere. The White House signaled that it intends to contest the ruling — the CDC requested an appeal late Wednesday — but that it will not seek a stay. That means maskless flights can continue.

This move by the White House tells us that the administration believes it must retain the ability to impose these mask mandates in the future — a question of authority which it is free to contest. But by not asking for a stay, the administration betrayed that the White House believes the current situation is not so dire that the CDC mandate must be reimposed now. This is, in effect, a way for the White House to disown its own CDC.

It is also an astonishing political failure for Joe Biden, a replay of his vaccine mandate which, when challenged, was quietly abandoned. Biden was elected promising to shut down the virus, not the country. But his administration, too populated by hypochondriacs and too much under the sway of Dr. Anthony Fauci, refuses to declare victory and celebrate the return of normalcy. Instead, the credit for ending the pandemic regime’s most annoying mandates and strictures falls to the judiciary that President Donald Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell did so much to reshape.

Voters will surely remember that progressives fought the return of normalcy the entire way.

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