Democrats across the country were by far the fiercest when it came to mandates during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, enacting draconian lockdown rules and ordering everyone to wear masks (although many liberals were quickly caught out saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite).
But when the spike of the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 faded, and the even-weaker BA.2 strain fizzling, Democrats decided it was time to party.
A couple Saturdays ago, high-profile journalists gathered with elite politicians — Cabinet members, top lawmakers from the House and Senate, along with mayors and high-level members of the Democratic Party — for a night of debauchery. The white-tie event, called the Gridiron dinner, invites some 600 people to wine and dine while they revel in comedy routines and songs performed by attendees (yes, it’s all as cringe-worthy as it sounds).
At the event — where the motto is “Singe but don’t burn” — those who dropped by night of frivolity got burned big time. By this past Saturday, at least 72 attendees have tested positive for the virus.
Gridiron Club President Tom DeFrank said Saturday that at least 67 attendees of the dinner had tested positive. In addition, five more confirmed cases were announced on Sunday.
“Latest update from Gridiron Club president Tom DeFrank, about covid outbreak from last weekend’s dinner (72 is +5 from yesterday’s reported number),” Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi wrote on Twitter.
Pause for the irony. Democrats were forever claiming events at the White House held by then-President Donald Trump, along with his official and campaign events, were “super-spreaders.” But no, fake news. The liberals’ Gridiron dinner was the real superspreader.
One of the latest to announce he has COVID-19 was New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who attended the swanky dinner, and he played the CYA card.
“@NYCMayor is also going to immediately begin taking the anti-viral meds offered for free to NYC residents and encourages all New Yorkers eligible for these meds to take them as well. While he is isolating, he will continue to serve New Yorkers by working remotely,” his press secretary wrote on Twitter.
NBC News reported that a third Cabinet secretary caught COVID-19.
“Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has been fully vaccinated and boosted, tested positive Friday and is experiencing mild symptoms, his office said in a statement Saturday, adding to a new wave of cases that has swept through the nation’s capital. Two other members of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, tested positive last week after they attended the annual social gathering of high-profile political media and business figures,” the network reported.
Shortly after the dinner, Mr. DeFrank said 14 guests had already tested positive and that “other cases could be expected,” CNN reported.
“As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, we know of 14 guests at Saturday’s dinner who have tested positive for Covid. There is no way of being certain about when they first contracted Covid,” Mr. DeFrank said. “But they did interact with other guests during the night and we have to be realistic and expect some more cases.”
Then Mr. DeFrank added this great line: “Except in cases of public officials who have on their own disclosed their status, we will protect the privacy of guests who test positive.” Oh, of course you will.
So who knows who caught the virus at the posh dinner.
The Washington Post laughed it all off. “It would be unfair to say Washington is blase about contracting the coronavirus — this is still a pandemic, after all. But the mind-set has shifted, and for the vaccinated a positive test is unlikely to result in a serious illness. The desire to get back to normal — the fundraisers, the dinners, the schmoozing — has trumped the fear most people felt in the early days of the crisis,” the paper wrote.
But the widespread outbreak shows what we knew pretty much from the beginning of the pandemic: Vaccinate again and again, wear a mask (or two or three), wash your hands until they’re raw, and you can still get COVID-19.
It also showed us one other thing: The elites are just better than us. They can pack into a hotel, hobnob elbow to elbow, maskless, of course, and no one condemns them for holding a superspreader event. The elite can’t wait to tell us all what we need to do, but now it’s clear that was more for us, not for them.
In the end, there couldn’t have been a more ironic occurrence in the “land of the mandaters.” And if you wrote it all in a Hollywood script, the film’s producers would’ve laughed you out of the room for concocting such an implausible scenario.
As we always say, only in Washington.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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