The Skinny: Jibber Jab: Arizona Republicans lose their marbles over new vaccine requirements from the Biden Administration

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

President Joe Biden finally came down on the unvaccinated last week.

Biden announced a plan requiring anyone working for a company with more than 100 employees who hasn’t been vaccinated to be tested weekly to ensure they are not COVID-positive. Biden announced similar requirements for federal contractors and anyone working in health care facilities that receive federal dollars.

But the Biden administration left an out for anyone who is refusing to get vaccinated. They are requiring the unvaccinated to get tested once a week so that people who are vaccinated don’t have to worry about working next to COVID Mary. 

Is it an inconvenience to get tested? Yeah, probably. It’s also inconvenient to watch the pandemic drag out and see 200 people die a week in Arizona because a bunch of numbnuts who did their own research have concluded that this is a plot to put microchips inside their bodies. Or whatever weird argument they have this week about how vaccines kill people and blah blah blah.

Republicans across Arizona, of course, lost their marbles after Biden made the announcement.

Gov. Doug Ducey decried the plan as “authoritarian” and “a war on our Constitution.” Ducey returned to his newest theme: It’s somehow Biden’s fault that Republicans have turned COVID prevention efforts into a political battle.

Ducey himself has happily volunteered for duty in that battle in recent months. While he’s at least pro-vaccine, he’s made a number of moves to prevent mitigation at schools where many kids are still too young to get the shot. Ducey isn’t just making threats against schools that require masks, he’s actually sending additional federal dollars designed to reduce the spread of COVID to school districts that refuse to enact mask mandates. In other words, he’s creating financial incentives to reduce mitigation efforts. (The Biden administration is stepping on Ducey’s strategy with a promise to use federal funds to backfill any funding that schools go without because they require masks.) 

And we shouldn’t forget that under Ducey’s strategy, Arizona twice became the worst place in the world for the spread of COVID and we’re now in a third wave. Not much to be proud of there, Doug.

Ducey’s obsession with blocking mitigation efforts makes no sense unless he just wants the pandemic to drag out for another two years so he can run for president by claiming Biden and the Democrats didn’t do enough to fight COVID.

Ducey’s law prohibiting mask mandates is the subject of a lawsuit heard in Maricopa County Superior Court this week that just might unwind a lot of policy elements that are passed each year in the budget. The Arizona School Boards Association and other groups are suing the state because they say the ban on mask mandates isn’t related to the budget, so it’s in violation of the Arizona Constitution’s single-subject rule. 

Ducey is complaining that Biden was undermining confidence in the vaccine with his new proposal—which is a pretty funny spin on things, given that Ducey has no stomach for criticizing those who actually do undermine confidence in the vaccine. That’s because the biggest vaccine skeptics are in the GOP base that already views him as a quisling for signing off on Arizona’s election certification of Biden’s win in Arizona.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich is also assailing Biden’s new rules, calling the plan a “devastating step toward the nationalization of our healthcare systems and private workforce.” Brnovich announced this week that he was filing suit against the Biden administration because the new plan “is one of the greatest infringements upon individual liberties, principles of federalism and separation of powers ever attempted by an American president.”

Brno has an odd fixation against keeping Arizonans healthy. His desperate effort to throw out the Affordable Care Act in recent years was so absurd that even the current Supreme Court told him and his fellow state AGs that they were just wrong on the law.

Brno has his own problems within the Republican Party as he seeks the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly next year. We’ve seen him devolve over the last year from an independent thinker who vouched for Arizona’s election results to a pandering clown with a first-class ticket on the conspiracy train. Like Ducey, Brno knows the GOP base doesn’t trust him, so he’s fighting on behalf of the embarrassing Cyber Ninja’s audit of the Maricopa County election. He’s gone so far as to threaten to withhold $676 million from Maricopa County unless they turn over sensitive information to the knuckleheads in charge of the fraudit.

No matter how much Brno throws in with the conspiracy crowd, he’s still going to get hammered by Tucson rich kid Blake Masters, who has the financial muscle to run ads targeting Brno that are filled with nonsense and false claims. But even if the media calls out those lies, the GOP base will continue to believe them. And Brno doesn’t have the financial resources to discredit Masters on his own.

You almost have to feel sorry for Brno, but he’s among the Republican office-holders who have encouraged voters to believe all the bullshit that has been fed to them. At the end of the day, he’s just getting what he deserves from Masters.