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Our Best Stuff from A Rough Week for the Biden Administration
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Our Best Stuff from A Rough Week for the Biden Administration

Iran, vaccine mandates, and understanding our declining birth rate.

Oof.

The Biden administration had a bad week. A Federal Drug Administration advisory committee voted against recommended the widespread booster shots the Biden White House had called for weeks ago; France withdrew its ambassador from Washington in protest of a new U.S. military partnership with the U.K. and Australia; the Pentagon acknowledged that its drone attack on ISIS-K terrorists in Kabul late last month had in fact taken out an aid worker and his family, including seven children; and more than 10,000 migrants—mostly Haitian—congregated beneath a bridge near Del Rio, Texas, adding to a growing crisis on the southern border. And all of that was just on Friday.

We’re sure that one of these weeks, we’ll be able to write to you celebrating some good news. This week was not that week. And so for now, we’re just going to get right to it. Please check out our best stuff from the last seven days, and thanks for reading.

Iran has spent the first year of the Biden administration ramping up its uranium enrichment, building better centrifuges, and dumping on the nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency. In return, all we’ve gotten is six rounds of failed talks in Vienna about restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal). And yet, the Biden administration continues to pin its hopes on a new deal. Reuel Marc Gerecht argues this lackluster response will usher in an era in which we have no actual Iran policy, at the same time the Islamic Republic will be establishing a hegemony over the Middle East. He writes: “By 2025, it’s game, set, and match. For the United States, without Israeli intervention and the possibly productive regional disturbance and uncertainties it would bring, we have likely already lost.”  

What kind of problems are there with Joe Biden’s (promised but still to be written) plan to have large employers mandate vaccines or testing for employees? Just a few: In Capitolism, Scott Lincicome details concerns over the mandate’s legality, design, and practicality. And that’s before he gets into unintended consequences. He notes that the “100 employees or more” standard is both over- and under-inclusive, that employers are left hanging and unable to prepare until the rule is published in the Federal Register, and that mandating a testing regime in an environment where tests are scarce and costly (thanks to the FDA) is difficult. “It’s totally reasonable, I think, to wish more people were vaccinated and to get upset or depressed at those folks unwilling to do so,” he writes. “But just because something should be done doesn’t mean a federal government of finite, enumerated powers can or should be the one to do it—and especially not by a messy, emergency, unilateral decree.” In a related piece–with far fewer charts–Chris Stirewalt also takes the Biden administration to task for the vaccine mandate, arguing that Biden’s contempt for the Constitution puts him in good company with his predecessors.

It’s pretty obvious that America faces many challenges right now. On the domestic front, we are extremely polarized. On the world stage, we just suffered an embarrassing surrender to the Taliban that will have repercussions for years to come. It’s hard not to think we are in a time of decline. But there’s one specific type of decline that is not discussed as often as it should be, and David tackled it in the French Press: our declining birth rate. Americans just aren’t having as many babies as we used to, and some on the right are blaming “liberalism.” But David makes an important point. It’s not just us. And in fact, it’s not just in the West. It’s all over. One reason for this is actually a good thing: As countries become more prosperous, birth rates decline. Regardless, it’s a shift that creates a whole slew of problems. And governments everywhere have failed to come up with policy solutions that might put the brakes on it. “It is often difficult to discern which social developments are the result of titanic, tidal cultural and technological forces that no government can arrest, versus the product of much more temporary trends that react well to better policy, improved political leadership, or shifting cultural mores,” he writes. 

Now for the best of the rest:

  • Andrew tackles a thorny issue pertaining to Biden’s vaccinate mandate proposal:  People with previous COVID infections benefit from natural immunity that rivals that of the vaccines. Should they be subject to mandates?

  • How are Democrats going to pay for the $3.5 trillion wish list they are trying to pass in Congress? Tax increases. Harvest and Ryan have the details in Uphill.

  • In the wake of the Afghanistan fiasco, the Biden administration has claimed that Iran has cause to be concerned with the Taliban as they are natural enemies. Danielle Pletka reminds readers that, while there are fundamental divisions between the Sunni Taliban and Shiite Iran, they will engage in realpolitik as it suits their needs.

  • With its vaccine mandate, the Biden administration makes clear that vaccinations are our path out of the pandemic. Why, then, do we have a travel ban that is based on geography and not a country’s vaccination rate? It makes no sense, argue Oliver Wiseman and Ryan Bourne.

  • Dropping on the pods: A new book reports that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley went around the chain of command to speak to the Chinese in the final days of the Trump administration. The gang discusses the story on The Dispatch Podcast. David and Sarah have their say on the vaccine mandate on Advisory Opinions. And on The Remnant, Jonah and Ramesh Ponnuru have a thoughtful and thorough discussion of abortion jurisprudence.

Rachael Larimore is managing editor of The Dispatch and is based in the Cincinnati area. Prior to joining the company in 2019, she served in similar roles at Slate, The Weekly Standard, and The Bulwark. She and her husband have three sons.