Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has no public health experience whatsoever, has apparently concluded that the American public would do well to follow his advice regarding the pandemic.
Recently, he’s repeatedly expressed his opposition to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding school reopenings, despite the fact that — again — he has no public health experience. He’s just a partisan operative talking as though he’s in a position of authoritative credibility despite the fact that, in reality, he’s mostly distinguished himself through means like calling for an increase in the American rate of imprisonment and expressing support for a deployment of the military against demonstrators.
At a press conference at the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki disassembled an argument from Cotton that the CDC had been unduly influenced by the American Federation of Teachers, a teachers union. Discussing Cotton’s allegations, Psaki pointedly commented as follows:
‘First, that’s false. Let’s take a step back and talk about how the CDC works. It’s actually a long-standing best practice for the CDC to engage with organizations and groups that are going to be impacted by guidance and recommendations issued by the agency. It doesn’t mean they are taking everything they want or even a percentage of what they want, but it’s important to understand the implementation components. They do so to ensure that recommendations are feasible and that they adequately address the safety and well-being of the individuals the guidances aim to protect. So the CDC engaged with around 50 stakeholders that are on the front lines in this pandemic and have requisite perspective for the guidance.’
Jen Psaki shoots down Sen. Tom Cotton's lies about the CDC being influenced by the American Federation of Teachers and then explains to Sen. Cotton, and Republicans in general, how the CDC works. pic.twitter.com/O1GnaDJPic
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) May 4, 2021
Cotton’s rhetoric has reached such a bizarre fever pitch that, during a recent appearance on Fox, he encouraged Americans to disregard guidelines from the CDC dealing with school reopenings. As he put it:
‘Most Americans disregard [CDC] advice on things like steaks and hamburgers and beers, and they should disregard their advice when it comes to school reopenings.’
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) encourages the public to “disregard” CDC advice:
“Most Americans disregard their advice on things like steaks and hamburgers and beers, and they should disregard their advice when it comes to school reopenings.” pic.twitter.com/jd6sdvrwmr
— The Recount (@therecount) May 3, 2021
So, here we have a sitting U.S. Senator without any public health background explicitly telling Americans that they “should disregard… advice” from public health authorities. Who does that help? What constructive purpose does that serve? These days, so much of what the Republican Party does seems to amount to being contrarian — and that’s it.